INDCOSERVE (the Tamil Nadu Small Tea Growers’ Industrial Cooperative Tea Factories’ Federation Ltd) managing director Supriya Sahu has written a letter to the 26,000 tea-growers of The Nilgiris seeking their inputs on enhancing productivity and improving their livelihoods.
Supriya Sahu, an IAS officer, took charge as MD in October 2019 and she sent the letter following widespread complaints that INDCOSERVE had not been doing enough to alleviate the issues faced by the growers.
The major problems faced by the tea-growers of the Nilgiris include climate vagaries, pests, and frost. The prices of Nilgiris tea had fallen due to these factors in the past.
Supriya Sahu, in the letter dated December 5, 2019, said it was difficult to run the cooperative tea factories and INDCOSERVE without support from tea-growers.
“As you know, about 26,000 farmers are growing tea on 37,000 acres in the district. Without your support, it is difficult to run the cooperative tea factories and the INDCOSERVE organisation. Having the aim to enhance your livelihood, the INDCOSERVE needs to work more. We realised, without your contribution, the aim cannot be achieved,” she said.
She urged farmers to come forward and share their ideas and opinions. “I look forward to your ideas and opinions. From the New Year, every week Thursday between 10 am and 1 pm, you can meet me and share your idea,” the letter said. (The first of the meetings was held on January 2).
Selvan, an employee of one of the cooperative tea factories, said this was the first time in the history of INDCOSERVE a managing director had written such a letter.
“Earlier, the head of the organisation used to meet the farmers once in a year. But this is the first time the farmers received such a letter and are welcomed to participate in the weekly meetings,” he said.
Supriya Sahu told The Federal that the tea-growers were the real stakeholders of INDCOSERVE. “This co-operative movement was started by them and they are the true stakeholders. Our primary objective is to empower small tea-growers.”
She said the aim was to involve them in turning around the factories and making it profitable. “I realised that our connect with small tea growers at INDCOSERVE needed to be strengthened and personalised. This gesture would certainly touch their hearts and make them feel that they are being valued by the organisation,” she said.
Stating that it was too early to talk of the details of the plans, she said, “Work is in progress.”
The Nilgiris, popularly known as Ooty, is the third-largest producer of tea in the country after Assam and Darjeeling and accounts for 25 per cent of the total tea production in the country.
INDCOSERVE is the largest tea co-operative federation in India with a total of 16 co-operative tea factories and 26,000 member-farmers.