Kozhikode: The lower and middle-class tea farmers of Wayanad are up in arms against the central and state governments for not addressing their issues in the district.
Various farmers' organizations have demanded that the government, before revising the wages of tea plantation workers, should ensure good price for green tea leaf as the revision of wages, though only in the plantation sector, would have implications in the entire tea industry.
Mr T.A. Muhammed, president, Kayyunni Small Tea Growers' Association, a co-operative venture that collects tea leaves from farmers and supplies them to the factories for a good price for farmers, told Deccan Chronicle that more than 7,000 farmers were affected by the steep fall in tea prices. “A farmer receives between Rs 5 and Rs 8 per kg of green leaf whereas Rs 4 to Rs 5 has to be paid for plucking one kg of leaf,” he added.
“We have already conducted a sit-in in front of village offices as the first round of agitation and we are planning an agitation at the higher level,” he said.
“A small-scale farmer who owns less than two acres of land will get around 1000 kg of green leaf and with the present price he will get nothing for his sustenance unless he plucks the leaves himself,” says Mr A. Krishnadas, leader of Karadippara Tea Growers' Association at Anappara, near Sulthan Bathery.
“This season, many of the private tea factories refused to buy green leaf and many farmers left the tea gardens grow as they are unable to sell the leaves,” he added.
Most farmers say that they would be able to survive only with a price between Rs 20 and Rs 30 for tea leaf. Tea agents told DC that the quality of tea leaf was one reasons that prevented tea factories from giving good price for tea leaf.