New Delhi: A parliamentary panel has suggested declaring tea as a “national drink” to increase its consumption besides exports.
In its report, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce, chaired by Shanta Kumar, said it would like to the Department of Commerce to consider declaring tea as a national drink keeping in mind the growing demand from the stake holders and the heritage value it carries.
“Its essential presence in the life of every Indian, directly or indirectly, assumes sufficient reason to declare it as a national drink. Its declaration would give it a desired prominence in promotional schemes and activities strengthening the beverage’s association with India in global markets and helping in exports,” it said.
In order to increase tea production in the country, it recommended to prepare a blue print for mechanisation and modernisation of operations of tea industry under a time bound programme.
It also asked the Department of Commerce to increase efforts towards value addition of tea by way of blending, packaging, tea bagging and intensify its research for developing new varieties.
The committee expressed concern over the unscrupulous exporters importing cheap tea from other countries and are exporting it without significant value-addition under false certificate as tea of Indian origin.
It recommended the department “to evolve an appropriate monitoring mechanism in respect of import of tea for exports and ensure that the licenses are issued only to individuals/rganisations with proven credentials.”
It also said that the problem of increased cost of fertlisers with no subsidy benefit is one of the main factors behind less productivity and also high cost of production.
“This high cost of production would adversely affect our price competitiveness in world market. The committee would like the department to ensure that fertlisers subsidy is available to growers and it also engage the state governments for timely availability of fertliser for them,” it said.
Further, it asked to become innovative towards raising the production since there is a strong demand of Indian tea in the global markets.
To boost coffee sector in the country, the committee has asked the Coffee Board to increase its domestic promotion activities to enhance the beverages consumption in the country, as it can act as an insurance against volatile coffee prices in the international market.
“Presently about 70 percent of the coffee grown in the country is exported and as such there is no fall back option to our growers when the international prices fall to non-remunerative levels,” the parliamentary committee said.
It said creation of domestic demand would provide buffer to Indian coffee prices as the growers would be in a better position to fall back upon relatively higher domestic process arising out of higher consumption and demand within country.
It also suggested to earmark enough funds for generic promotion of coffee consumption in India.