Tea is yet to find support of any weather based insurance cover
Dry post winter wind has started adding folds on forehead of tea planters in Darjeeling as well as entire Tea belt in North Eastern region. Though highly affected by the climatic whims, tea is yet to have any insurance cover against adverse weather conditions.
Meteorological record clearly shows the tea belt of Bengal or Assam in a critical climatic zone with high frequency of adverse weather conditions like drought, erratic rainfall or hail storm. “It is a common trend for the region,” said G. N. Raha, senior expert in Indian Meteorology Department.
Showing same pattern this year too, entire tea belt is passing thorough post winter dry season with highly inadequate moisture level in air as well as soil. Both are very important for proper growth of post winter ‘first flush’ harvest that brings in highest price.
“Like this, heavy rain or hailstorm also causes long term health loss for tea bushes,” said tea expert and Advisory Officer of Tea Research Association Mr. D. Bargohain.
“Small growers with limited loss bearing capacity are worst sufferers. We are demanding insurance coverage against these weather situations since long. It is there for coffee or rubber, but not for Tea,” said Bijoy Gopal Chakroborty, president of Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Associations (CISTA).
In India, small tea growers contribute near 35% to the national yield .
“Not only small tea gardens, weather based insurance will be a blessing for organized plantations too,” said K. K. Mintry,Chairman, Terai Indian Planters’ Association.
“Discussion was initiated with Agriculture Insurance Company of India Limited to design weather based crop insurance scheme for tea. Meteorology department was also requested to provide long duration weather data for every tea producing regions for that,” G. Boriah, former Director, Indian Tea Board (ITB), said earlier.
But, “Despite announcement of insurance for small growers in three regions in Assam, Bengal and Tamil Nadu as a pilot project for 16-17 crop years, nothing practical has come up yet,” said Chakroborty.
However, as per Indian Tea board Sources, a proposal on this has been sent to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry long back. Bidding process with insurance companies has also been initiated. But, “The support still remained under fathoms,” said planters.
Source: ECONOMIC TIMES