Wednesday, 16 September 2015


Northeast India is home to tea gardens & New Khamlang village in Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh was not an exception to this. This village not only consumes tea but also grows it. Almost every household has on an average 1 to 2 acres of land exclusively for tea cultivation. The proximity of this place to the neighbouring state of Assam perhaps could have made tea a popular cultivation. “I don’t know since when but tea cultivation has been an integral component of our society and it will remain to be so forever, said Gaon Burah (village headman), a septuagenarian from the village.

New Khamlang with a population of 511 is growing tea as one its income generation activities. “We cultivate tea as it has always got demand in the market and gives us an income though not satisfying enough”, said Pondang Sangwal a farmer from New Khamlang. It has been a popular practice until the change happened that the people would usually sell their tea to the middlemen at a throw away price. The middlemen would come on regular intervals to the village and bargain the cost as per his will sighting several reasons that the innocent people would never contest. The people were selling tea hardly at Rs. 10 to 12 per kilogram. “We were compelled to sell our tea at such a rate as we thought that we did not have touch with the actual market from where we could get a better price”, said Dangrem Ngaimong.

The FARM North East partner Seva Kendra Arunachal East (SKA) while promoting agricultural activities was also motivating people to take up marketing of their products in order to earn more. SKA was aware of the middle men playing spoilsport with the small tea growers by depriving them of what they deserve. “The issue of marketing has always been a stumbling stone for us to deal with due to many reasons but we are trying hard to see to it that the people get their share of benefits by growing tea”, said Mintu Mosahary, the project Coordinator.

Team SKA put in its weight behind the community of New Khamlang village & suggested them to contact the Manager of the tea processing factory at Kharsang. The community was told that they have an option of selling their tea leaves to this factory & that they have a high probability of getting a much better price than what being offered by the middle men.

Community involved in meeting

The community started thinking on the lines suggested by Team SKA. “We sat together with our village elders and discussed thoroughly on what best could be done to help ourselves to derive maximum benefits”, said Ms. Rumba Ngaimong. They approached the Manager of the tea factory during the August 2015 & held a couple of rounds of meetings with him to share their grievances and requested him to help them.  Village elders & women represented the group that met the Manager.

Tea leaves loaded on the vehicle to sent to factory
The Manager gave them a patient hearing and asked them to strike a deal with a formal contract. He asked the villagers to supply tea leaves on a daily basis to the factory during the season. “We were taken by surprise when we found the Manager coming forward to help us as we thought that it may not an easy job”, said Kumjung Hachang, Anchal Samiti member (ASM).

The community after returning to New Khamlang shared the piece of information all and requested them to cooperate fully. “When we came know about the good news that we would be selling our tea leaves to the factory our happiness was to the extreme”, said Ms. Nyasham Hachang.  The people of New Khamlang also fixed a vehicle that would carry the tea leaves on a daily basis to the factory at Kharsang.
The middle man thus became a history in New Khamlang today. The small tea growers are selling their tea leaves at a rate of Rs. 20 to 25 per kilogram to the factory. “We realised the true meaning of the famous quote that says Where there is will, there is a Way”, said a beaming Ms. Resham Ngaimong.
Contributed by: Mintu Mosahary, Coordinator, SKA East, Arunachal Pradesh
Edited by: Prabal Sen, Caritas India, Guwahati, Assam

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