September 14, 2019
Green tea leaf harvesting is a major part of the economy in the Nilgiris region. Nearly 65,000 farmers and workers depend on tea plantations for their livelihood. However the number of daily wage workers to pick tea leaves are decreasing day by day, thus making it difficult for many plantation owners to manage their day-to-day work.
Meanwhile mechanical devices have been invented for tea plantation work which can make up for the dwindling number of workers. But many farmers are unable to buy these implements due to financial constraints.
The Tamil Nadu Government provides farm seeds, fertilisers and pesticides, spraying equipment and drip irrigation equipment, besides bore well digging work at around 50 to 100 per cent subsidy on the total cost to vegetable farmers. “But they do not concentrate on us,” said one of the tea plantation workers. Since many tea pickers have gone for other jobs, the remaining workers are demanding that the government provide tea picking equipment free of cost.
They say that since tea harvests do not get good market prices, many farmers are selling their lands for low costs. Some are unable to get the tea leaves picked due to shortage of plantation workers. This has brought down the quality of the tea. A few others have bought these devices at their own expense and are picking the leaves. However most of the farmers are unable to buy the devices or pick the leaves on time. “Therefore we request the Government to give us subsidies to buy these implements just like subsidies given to vegetable farmers,” says a plantation farmer.