Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd (APPL), the second largest tea producer in the country, is moving the Centre to help it sustain its organic initiative at Hathikuli — the largest integrated organic farm in the country.
The tea company, which has 25 gardens in Assam and Bengal, is making this move to take advantage of the Rs 100 crore budget provision made this year to promote organic farming in the Northeast.
A senior company official said as a first move, it is looking to the government to allocate funds from the current year’s budget for organic production and will send a detailed proposal.
“This will encourage sustaining the organic movement in the Northeast,” he said.
The cumulative loss of going organic at Hathikuli has been Rs 16 crore, which is mainly due to loss of production, he added.
The process of organic transformation was undertaken in 2007 and it was achieved in 2011. “The acreage converted to organic farming is the largest contiguous conversion that has taken place anywhere in the country,” the official said.
The 687-hectare Hathikuli tea garden, situated on the periphery of Kaziranga National Park, is certified organic according to the Indian, US, European Union and Japanese organic agricultural standards.
Hathikuli is known for its CTC, orthodox, green teas and black pepper with a total annual production of 600 metric tonnes.
The teas are being exported to Germany, the US, the UK and West Asian countries.
The demand for organic food and beverages in the country is huge and estimated at $129.3 million and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15 per cent.
“We are in the process of educating ourselves and developing organic packages and practices, which will help create a knowledge base for farmers across the world and specifically Assam,” the official said.
The company’s net profit during 2013-14 reflected a growth of 56 per cent compared to 2012-13. The company held its annual general meeting last month with Ranjit Barthakur as its chairman.
The company has recorded an increase of nine per cent in its own crop harvest as compared to the Assam Valley increase of six per cent.
The company has focused on increasing its volume on operations through sustained development of its tea areas and purchase of bought leaf for conversion. It has also focused on orthodox manufacturing, which has added considerable value to the operations.
The focus on quality has also improved its earnings.
APPL has deployed a fairly large number of mechanical harvesters across 17 estates, as these machines will help in harvesting the crops in time. “This would also help in availability of mandays to do cultivation, as many estates are facing a shortage of workers,” the official said.
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