Tea major eyes China

The growing domestic demand for black tea in China is what Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited, the second largest producer of the beverage in India with 21 garden in Assam alone, is planning to cash in on.

“We have sent a small consignment of black tea last month to a Chinese government company. This is a just a start-up consignment and if the feedback is good, there might be bigger orders,” the company’s managing director, Deepak Atal, told The Telegraph today. “Their norms for accepting tea from outside are very tough and we are looking into it.”

Atal, who recently visited China to attend a tea festival and international tea convention, said there was a separate session on black tea at the convention, indicating the importance accorded to black tea in that country.

“The younger generation in China is showing a great liking for black tea and this is what is motivating us to look towards that country,” he said, adding that the consignment they sent to China comprised CTC and orthodox varieties produced in the company’s Assam gardens.

The company, which has 21 gardens in Assam and four in Bengal, produced 32.34 million kg of tea in 2012, of which the state contributed 28.51 million kg.

He said a delegation from China had visited tea gardens of different companies, including Amalgamated, in India earlier this year.

According to 2012 figures released by International Tea Committee, China tea production is 1,761 million kg, which is 38.9 per cent of the world produce. Similarly, China exported 321.79 million kg, 18.64 per cent of the world export level.

Having surpassed India as the leading tea producer in 2006, the neighbouring country has been producing more than 500 million kg of green tea since 2001, which increased to 1,046 million kg in 2010.

Sources say China grows tea in more than 10,000 holdings and boasts production of the largest variety of teas in the world. Some of the notable types of Chinese teas include green, white, oolong, black and smoked black (a type of green tea), among others.

The production in China grew at 2.38 per cent during the nineties of the last century and registered 8 per cent growth between 2001 and 2010.

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India needs modern storage to sustain food bill proposals

Food minister KV Thomas said that apart from raising foodgrains production, the country needs modern storage facilities on the lines of China to sustain the implementation of new food bill provisions.

The draft National Food Security Bill, which is likely to be introduced in the winter session of Parliament, seeks to provide legal entitlement to subsidised foodgrains to 75 per cent of the country’s rural population and 50 per cent of urban India.

“Steps are being taken to augment storage capacities, but still I find our storage is not modern,” Thomas said at an event organised by the International Rice Research Institute.

With rising foodgrains production every year, the country needs modern storage units like the one used in China to reduce losses, he said.

India has storage capacity of 60 million tonnes, the requirement of foodgrains to implement the proposed bill is estimated to be 61-62 million tonnes.

“As we move forward with the proposed bill, there is an urgent need to reduce foodgrains wastage at every level, right from harvesting of grains till storage,” Thomas said.

Even now, foodgrains go waste during the harvesting as well as transportation through railway wagons to different states for Public Distribution System, he observed.

Food Corporation of India (FCI) is the nodal agency that procures, stores and distributes foodgrains to PDS at subsidised rates.

Already, the government has launched a scheme to build 15 million tonnes of additional storage capacity through public-private-partnership mode in next few years. It also plans to set up silos with capacity of 2 million tonnes.

On the need for effective PDS for the successful implementation of the food bill provisions, Food Secretary B C Gupta said that the government has started computerising the PDS to reduce leakages and diversion of subsidised grains meant for poor.

As many as 10 state governments have reported taking up digitalisation of ration card database. Besides, some states are implementing GPS-based tracking of vehicles that carry PDS food items, he added.

Agriculture Secretary P K Basu said the ministry will focus on rainfed areas and the eastern belt for increasing productivity and improving farm income in the coming years.

The country is estimated to have produced 241.56 million tonnes of foodgrains in the 2010-11 crop year (July-June) and targets 245 million tonnes this year.

Retrieved from – http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-10-12/news/30270976