Kuttikanam, Idukki, Kerala. December 14, 2007

On the eve of International Tea Day delegates of Small Tea Growers’ Associations from the states of Assam, West Bengal, Tamilnadu and Kerala had the first and the founding National Convention of Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers’ Associations (CISTA) on 14 December 2007 at Marian College, Kuttikanam, Kerala. It was followed by a rally and public meeting at Elappara, Kerala on 15 December 2007.

Inaugural Session

K. Thankachan, member of Tea Cops, Chulliyod, Kerala welcomed the guests and Mar Mathew Arackal, inaugurated the convention. Alex Kozhimala, Working Chairperson of CISTA chaired the session.

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Inaugurating the convention Mar Mathew Arackal highlighted the crisis being faced by the STGs and identified some of the reasons as over-dependence on climate for irrigation, ups and downs of price of tea, big lobbies in tea business, competition between estate and STGs etc. These, he said was adversely impacting on farming community in the form of low price realisation for green leaf, which was lower than the cost of production. He advocated integrated farming, value addition to crops, eco-friendly cultivation or organic tea production, formation of farmers’ association and establishing own tea factory etc.

P. A. Joseph, Member, Tea Board of India welcomed the Small Tea Growers’ assembled in Kuttikanam from all over India. He narrated that with the crisis of Indian tea industry occurred in 2002 many tea estates were closed; some were open but not properly functional, labour wages were not paid, legislations are running namesake, although price of a cup of tea had been increased but Tea Growers were getting lesser price. He stressed on the registration of STGs and promised to discuss the issue with the Chairman, Tea Board of India and liberalise the registration process. He expressed hope that CISTA would be involved in bringing favourable policies for Small Tea Growers.

Mr. Namboodiri, Joint Controller of Licensing, TBI Cochin in his address stated that this is first time in the country, STGs are united together. He has given importance on formation and registration of Small Tea Growers’ societies to avail various facilities like leaf carry bag, leaf shed, vehicle, irrigation, farm equipment, educational subsidy etc. He narrated how Indian Tea is facing competition from Sri Lanka and China. He stressed on popularising and increasing tea consumption in India.

J. John, Executive Director, C.E.C described the formation of CISTA as a historic moment in Indian Tea industry and for the first time, small tea growers as a segment was gaining voice. He said that a distinction be made between the STG collectives who engage in business activities and the CISTA as body of the small tea growers intended to represent them and make policy and advocacy interventions on behalf of them. He expressed hope that CISTA would usurp to itself this historic role and represent small tea growers at appropriate levels.

Ram Bajekal, Traidcraft expressing happiness on the formation of CISTA highlighted that the emerging unity among the Small Tea Growers would help them to bring changes in cultivation practices, bargaining power and suitable policy formulation and implementation. He also explained that Small Tea Growers would be definitely in a better position than the Estate gardens in Indian Tea industry at the earliest.

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Dillip Karr, Program Manager, STG project of CEC expressed that CISTA would be enable to bring required policy for STGs and also could involve in monitoring and implementation of schemes at states and regional level.

Delegates from STGs’ Associations from Assam, West Bengal, Tamilnadu and Kerala  spoke on the occasion and shown confidence and determination to work unitedly for the betterment of Small Tea Growers.

Alex Kozhimala, convenor of the program explained how STGs were being united in Idukki District to form STGs societies, registering with Tea Board and linking with factories for leaf business.

S.A.Rehman, Secretary, Travancore Tea Farmers’ Society extended vote of thanks.

In the afternoon, during the business session, the delegates deliberated on the CISTA logo, its by-laws, and rules and regulations, selection of general body, executive committee and office bearers of CISTA. This was followed by the formal election of Executive Committee and Office bearers of the organisation. J John was unanimously chosen as the electoral officer. The election process went on smoothly in a democratic way, but took around 4 hours to complete. 10 members from each state constituted the General body (total 40), the electoral column. They elected 4 members each from all the states i.e. 16 members as the executive committee of CISTA. Out of these 16 members 9 were elected as the Office Bearers:

First Elected Office Bearers of CISTA

  1. President: Satyajit Bordoloi, Assam
  2. Vice Presidents: (i) M. A. Peter, Kerala: (ii) Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty, West Bengal; (iii) T. Dhoddai, Tamilnadu
  3. General Secretary: A. M. Joghee, TamilNadu
  4. Secretaries: (i) Debasis Pal, West Bengal; (ii) Bijit Basumatari, Assam; (iii) K. Thankhachan, Kerala
  5. Treasurer: Hariprasad N., Tamilnadu

On the 2nd day i.e. 15th Dec, 2007 the session started with the presentation of research findings on “Health hazards in Tea Cultivations “ by Dr. Ashish Mittal, CEC. Participants expressed the need for organising health awareness and check up programmes at society level involving local doctors.

Mr. Nazeem, Executive Director, Tea Board of India, Coonoor and Mr. Namboodiri, Tea Board, Cochin appreciated the formation of CISTA and support given by CEC for the STGs in the states.

Mr. Nazeem explained how the STGs societies are formed, registered and function in South India facilitated by CEC. He explained that lot of flexibility in registration process have been adopted in South Indian with the aim to provide benefit to STGs. He explained various facilities for STGs who form registered societies, like leaf carrying vehicle, leaf shed, carry bag, education schemes, working capital of Rs 5 lakhs per society etc. He expressed confidence that all the schemes would effectively implemented by the societies facilitated by CEC in their formation. He also encouraged the members of CISTA to work for the concerns of STGs. He suggested that the information related to CISTA should be put on the website of Tea Board of India, and that the members of CISTA could be nominated as Tea Board members.

Abdul Hannan, CEC described possible advocacy issues and sought clarifications from Mr. Nazeem on the issue of opening of more Tea Board offices for the benefit of STGs, liberalisation of society registration process etc.

Advocacy issues

The general body and executive committee members of CISTA identified the following major advocacy issues:

  1. Land ownership document requirement for getting N.O.C. for registration with the Tea Board of India
  2. Clarity ins individual and society registration by the Tea Board of India
  3. Pricing of green leaf – mechanism and monitoring systems
  4. Approval of schemes meant for STGs societies by the Tea Board of India

CISTA – Next Steps

Amongst the immediate activities of CISTA, the following areas were identified:

  1. Registration of CISTA as a legal entity
  2. Opening an operational office in Delhi
  3. Printing of letter head, office stamps etc
  4. Next meeting of the Executive Committee in Delhi in Jan-Feb, 08 to prepare detailed action plan.

General Body (Founding) members of CISTA

Constituted at the Founding Convention December 2006 at Elappara, Idukki, Kerala. December 14, 2006

A) Assam:

  1. Cheniram Khanikar, Vill: Udaipur, P.O: Tingkhong, Dist: Dibrugarh, Assam, Pin: 786611, Phone no: 9435474391, 0374-2917463
  2. Karuna Mahanta, Vill: Balisatra, P.O: Kuwaritol, Dist: Nagaon, Assam, Pin: 782137, Phone no: 9435317173, 03672-276611
  3. Satyajit Bordoloi, 6th lane, Manik Bhawan, Ganak Patty, P.O: Sivasagar, Dist: Sivasagar, Assam, Pin: 785640, Phone no: 94354-87677, 94350-57102, 98548-83516 E-mail: satyajitbordoloi.astcol@yahoo.co.in
  4. Bijit Basumatary, Vill: Kakrighola, C/O- Swmkwr rubber and tea garden, P.O: Nayekgaon, Dist: Kokrajhar, Assam, Pin: 783376, Phone no: 9435128562
  5. Dinesh Sharma, Lachit nagar, Dumduma, P.O: Rupai sailing, Dist: Tinsukia, Assam, Pin: 786153, Phone no: 9435140771
  6. Hemanta Saikia, Pensioner Bhawan, Near ASTC bus stand, P.O: North Lakhimpur, Dist: North Lakhimpur, Assam, Phone no: 9435006291
  7. Deepjyoti Saikia, Vill: Auniati, P.O: Purani Gudam, Dist: Nagaon, Assam, Pin: 784176, Phone no: 9435160549
  8. Pronoy Basumatary, Vill: No 1 Sapekhaity, P.O: Udalguri, Dist: Udalguri, Assam, Pin: 784509, Phone no: 9435184137
  9. Durlav Bora, Vill: Diha Gojpuria gaon, P.O: Lahdoigarh, Dist: Jorhat, Assam, Pin: 785107, Phone no: 9435248913
  10. Jitu Saikia, Vill: Niz Baghmari, P.O: Burigaon, Dist: Sonitpur, Assam, Pin: 784176, Phone no: 9435383499

B) Kerala

  1. K. Thankachan, Kochumelathil (H), Chulliyode P.O, Wayanad District, Kerala, Tel- 9447435650
  2. M. A. Peter, Mothal (H), Chulliyode P.O, Wayanad District, Kerala, Tel-9744804830, 9446937909
  3. K. C. Krishnadas, Karuthandan (H), Karadippara P.O , Kerala Tel- 9947307501
  4. P.V.Narayanan, Poongattu (H), Chulliyode P.O, Wayanad District, Kerala Tel-9447385969
  5. Anil Kumar, Thazheputhenvettil (H), Vythiri P.O Kerala, Tel- 9447356871
  6. Alex Kozhimala, Kozhimala (H), Mundakayam P.O, Idduki District, Kerala, Tel-9447054251
  7. Fr. Thomas Theneth, Karmel Hill Asramam, Thalappuzha P.O, Mananthavady, Kerala, Tel- 9447896068
  8. S. A. Rahman, Safia Manzil, Kaller Pathuvall, Pambanar P.O, Idukki District,, Kerala, pin-685537, Tel-04869232727
  9. Sebastian George, Muruthoor (H), Fairfield P.O, Bonany, Elappara, Idukki District, Kerala, Tel-04869242537
  10. Sabu, Manithottigil House, Pilakavu P.O, Mananthavady, Kerala, Tel- 9446695474

C) West Bengal

  1. Dulal Dutta, Jeevan More, Choprajhar, Islampur – 733202  (Uttar Dinajpur).
  2. Shileshwar Das, Village and P.O. Daspara, Uttar Dinajpur.
  3. Apurbo Rai, Vill. Malkani haat, P.O. Brajapur,, Jalipaiguri – 735101.
  4. Badal Debnath, Mahakalpara, P.O. Moynaguri, Jalpaiguri.
  5. Rajat Rai Karjee, Raj Bari Para, Opp. Sports Complex, P.O. Raikatpara, Jalpaiguri – 735101
  6. Ranjeet Ganguly, Vill. Fatapukur School Para,, P.O. Fatapukur, Jalpaiguri – 735103
  7.  Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty, 20, College Para, P.O Jalpaiguri Dist, West   Bengal, Pin-735101094340-16795, Telefax-03561222258, Email:bgc_jal@yahoo.co.in
  8. Debasis Paul, Desbandhupara, At/PO- Islampur,  Uttar Dinajpur district, West Bengal, pin-733202, Ph-0943419475
  9. Biplab Saha, Vill & P. O. -Berubari, Jalpaiguri-735101 West Bengal
  10. Idrish Alam, Malingachh, P.O-Ramganj, Uttar Dinajpur, Pin-733207 West Bengal

D) Tamilnadu

  1. Hari Prasad N., Srimadurai small tea growers association, R 6/283 Gurukripa, Killurfarm, Athipally post, Gudalur-643212, Nilgiris, Tamilnadu 04262-226254, 09443931378
  2. A.M. Joghee, 2/239 Anikorai , Annikorai village and post, Ooty block, Nilgiis, Tamilnadu
  3. T. Dhoddai, 6/226 Addakorai, Sholur village and post, Ooty block, Nilgiris, Tamilnadu
  4. S.S. Richard, Gandhi Nagar, Choondi post, O valley, Gudalur, Nilgiris, Tamilnadu
  5. T. J. Jacob, Tharpagiri, Dharmagiri post, O valley, Gudalur, Nilgiris, Tamilnadu
  6. N. Shiva Kumar, Bandhumai village and post, Jegathala panchayat,, Kotagiri block, Nilgiris, Tamilnadu
  7. C. R. Prasad Kumar, Chinna Coonoor Village and Post, Ooty Block, Nilgiris, Tamilnadu
  8. B. Bellaraj, 4/107, Kambatty, Kammbatty Village, T. Manihatty Post, Ooty Block, Nilgiris, Tamilnadu
  9. K. Raghunathan, Padanthorai Village and Post, Devarshola Panchayat, Gudalur, Nilgiris, Tamilnadu
  10. Suresh, Kothumudi Village and Post, Ooty Block, Nilgiris, Tamilnadu

Founding Members – CISTA

  1. ALL ASSAM SMALL TEA GROWERS’ ASSOCIATION, H.O & P.O – LAHOAL, COLLEGE ROAD, LAHOAL, PIN-786010, DISTRICT – DIBRUGARH, ASSAM
  2. UTTAR DINAJPUR SMALL TEA GROWERS’ WELFARE ASSOCIATION, ISLAMPUR, UTTAR DINAJPUR, WEST BENGAL
  3. Jalpaiguri ZILLA KHUDRA CHA CHASI SAMITI, KADAMTALA, D.D.C  ROAD, P.O & DIST – JALPAIGURI-735101, WEST BENGAL
  4. ALL KERALA SMALL TEA GROWERS’ FEDERATION, PEERMADE, IDDUKI DISTRICT, KERALA.
  5. FEDERATION of SMALL TEA GROWERS’ ASSOCIATION, NILGIRIS, BANTHIMI, YEDAPALLI, P.O. – COONOOR, NILGIRIS DISTRICT, TAMILNADU
  6. ALL ARUNACHAL PRADESH SMALL TEA GROWERS ASSOCIATION, APTPA, DOKUM COLONY, P.O. PS-NAHARLAGUN – PIN-791110, DISTRICT – PAPUM PARE, ARUNACHAL PRADESH
  7. MAITRI CHA SILPA BAHUMUKHI SWANIRBHAR SAMABAYA SAMITI LTD., HALAHALI, P.O-HALAHALI, P.S. – KAMALPUR, DISTRICT – DHALAI, TRIPURA
  8. THE KANGRA VALLEY SMALL TEA PLANTERS ASSOCIATION, PALAMPUR, C/O THE PALAMPUR CO-OP TEA FACTORY LTD. , PALAMPUR, CHAI BHAWAN.P.O. – MARANDA, DISTRICT – KANGRA. HIMACHAL PRADESH – 176102
  9. KISHANGANJ DISTRICT TEA PLANTERS’ ASSOCIATION, FULHARA KAIMARI, DISTRICT – KISHANGANJ, BIHAR
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