NEW DELHI: A group of tea planters in Assam on Sunday met Assam agriculture minister Atul Bora and sought his intervention, besides suggesting ways and means to resolve present crisis arising out of tea quality compliances.
Through a memorandum, the tea plantation sector representatives under North Eastern Tea Association appealed before the minister to prohibit sale, stock, distribution and, or use of certain pesticides in Assam in the best interest of the tea industry.Those six pesticides are Cypermethrin, Acephate, Imidacloprid, Acetamiprid, Dinotefuran, and Fipronil.
Earlier this year, the Assam government launched strict enforcement against the use of Monocrotophos in tea plantation and vegetables.
“You are well aware of the fact that 50 per cent of the total green leaf is produced by the Small Tea Growers (STGs). Due to lack of awareness, the STGs spray some pesticides which are not approved for use in tea,” the memorandum to the minister read.
The tea planters argued that these six pesticides, which are not approved for use in tea, are available in the open market because it can be used in other crops.
Tea is the lifeline industry of Assam and 90 per cent of state’s total exports are tea alone. Livelihood of millions is dependent upon this plantation industry.
“In recent days, during testing of teas, it has been found that six pesticides, which are not approved for use in tea, have sometimes crossed Maximum Residue Limit (MRL),” the memorandum read.
India’s food safety regulator FSSAI has in early March 2024 had made it mandatory to test these pesticides, as per the planters.
“We envisage that 90 per cent of our FSSAI compliance issue in tea would get resolved if these six pesticides are prohibited from sale to tea growers, in the same line as recently adopted for Monocrotophos,” they asserted.
The delegation was led by Association’s Chairman, Ajay Dhandharia, and was accompanied by Adviser Bidyananda Barkakoty, Vice Chairman Neeraj Jallan and Executive Members Manoj Jallan, Amit Malpani, Sudhir Roy, Vishal Jallan, Nitin Kashyap, and Secretary Manisha Sharma.
Renowned globally for its richly coloured and aromatic tea, Assam’s tea industry, provides livelihoods to millions, with many others directly or indirectly dependent on the plantations. The state is famous for both Orthodox as well as the CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl) varieties of tea.
About 25 per cent of the teas that are produced in the state are of dust grade and the rest CTC and orthodox.
The tea plantation sector in Assam reached a crucial milestone of 200 years in 2023. The industry is not in the best of health and has been struggling with issues such as rising production costs, relatively stagnant consumption, subdued prices, and crop quality issues.
It also faces the challenge of holding its ground in a competitive global market. The tea business is cost-intensive, with an estimated 60-70 per cent of the total investment being fixed in cost terms.
Assam now produces nearly 700 million kg tea annually and accounts for around half of India’s overall tea production. The state also generates annual foreign exchange equivalent to Rs 3,000 crore.

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