Islampur, West Bengal. December 15, 2008
Confederation of Indian Small Tea Grower Associations (CISTA) took the initiative in organising the International Tea Day, 2008 at Islampur, West Bengal. CISTA was formally launched in Ellappara, Kerala in 2007 as a body of small tea grower associations in different tea growing states in India. It had its Annual General Body meeting on December 14, 2008 at Islampur. The 4th ITD celebration consisted of mass rally, an exhibition on the steps taken for organising STGs with the support of Centre for Education and Communication (CEC) and a public meeting.
More than 1000 small tea growers marched through the Islampur town raising slogans demanding fair price for green leaf. Besides small tea growers in large numbers from Uttar Dinajpur, Coochbehar and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, small tea grower representatives from Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Kerala participated in the rally with the banners of their respective Associations. They were members of CISTA from the eight states. Adding flavour was STGs in motor cycles who joined the rally. Local traffic police and administration made necessary logistics arrangements.
The exhibition on the steps taken for organising STGs with the support of CEC was inaugurated by the Ashok Bhattacharjee, Honourable Minister for Urban Development, Government of West Bengal. Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), Islampur was also present during the occasion. The exhibition displayed the photographs of various training programs, meetings, exposure organised with the support of CEC. There were also exhibits from Tea Research Association (TRA) on samples of diseased tea plants, parts of plants etc.
The Public Meeting
The public meeting was presided by Satyajit Bordoloi, President, CISTA. The guests were Ashok Bhattacharjee, Honourable Minister for Urban Development, Government of West Bengal, MLA from Islampur and Dr. Baisya, scientist from Tea Research Association (TRA).
The Minister and the MLA appreciated the efforts being made by the small tea growers to organise themselves. They expressed hope that such efforts would contribute to the improvement in the quality of leaf and a better price for their produce. They asserted that the schemes of Tea Board must reach STGs in North Bengal without delay. Dr. Baisya explained the importance of scientific cultivation including the importance of drainage, plucking interval and judicious use of fertiliser and pesticides. He observed how the training programs organised in Uttar Dinajpur with the help of CEC has resulted in changing the cultivation practices of STGs. He requested the STGs to avail the facilities of TRA for improving the quality of their tea.
Program Manager, CEC, encouraged STGs to organize more societies with the help of the Uttar Dinajpur STGs Welfare Association and function profitably to increase their income.
Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty, Vice President, CISTA thanked the organisers, participants, guests, officials from District Administration and the press.