Small tea farmers set up own factoriesTea factories set up by a group of small scale tea farmers have finally come to fruition. They established the factories in a bid to counter the low prices offered by big factories.
Tea factories set up by a group of small scale tea farmers have finally come to fruition. They established the factories in a bid to counter the low prices offered by big factories.
Tea farmers said that they have received more than double of their usual prices for the raw green tea leaves this year since supplying their produce to the tea factories set by small scale tea farmers.
They received Rs17 per kg this year while they were offered only Rs8 per kg by the big tea factories last year.
This has also ended the tussles between the small tea growers and big factories that used to flare up every year regarding the rates of green tea leaves.
Farmers said that in the past, they were forced to sell tea leaves to big factories at the prices fixed by them. Now, they have small factories to counter the prices.
This year, three small tea factories—Parakhopi Small Tea Farmers Cooperatives in Haldibari; Subha Tea Farmers Cooperatives in Bahundangi and Small Farmers Tea Producers Cooperatives in Haldibari came into operation.
With this, the district now has four small factories, including Small Farmers Agriculture Cooperatives in Prithvinagar, run by a group of small scale tea farmers. Another factory is also under construction in Mechinagar Municipality.
Pushpa Niraula, a local tea farmer in Haldibari, said they have received a good rate for their produce this year. “We were forced to sell tea leaves at Rs8 per kg last year. Now, we receive a fair price.”
Farmers said that the big factories used to exploit them by offering low prices for their crop. The latest price offered by small factories has encouraged many tea growers to continue their business, Niraula said. Niraula has been producing around 32 tonnes of green tea leaves on his two bighas of land annually.
Hem Karna Katuwal of Haldibari-2, who had returned as a migrant worker from Malaysia, decided not to return to back. He has been planting tea on 1.5 bighas. “If we get a reasonable price for our crop, there is no point to go abroad.”
Purna Bahadur Karki, president of Small Tea Farmers Traders Association, Jhapa, said that the operation of small factories run by cooperatives have cheered all the small holders. The establishment of small factories by the farmers themselves has removed the long-standing pricing problems faced by tea farmers, he said.
The government has been providing 50 percent subsidies to construct tea processing plants. Under the scheme, four small farmers’ cooperatives received a fund worth Rs136.3 million this year. These small factories have been processing 60,000 tonnes of green tea leaves, producing 12 tonnes of tea daily.
As small farmers were denied fair price of their crop, more than 400 farmers in Baigundhura, Birtamode, Haldibari and Maheshpur have switched to other occupations and destroyed their tea gardens.