Tea Plantation in Assam
Tea plantations in Sikkim
Tea plantations in West Bengal
Tea plantations in Karnataka
Tea plantations in Tamil Nadu
Tea plantations in Kerala
Tea Plantations In Orissa
The Story of Bhuyanpirh Tea Estate
There are in India today over 5 million such tribal folk, living in the remotest parts of the country, which was at one time dense jungle. The indiscriminate felling of trees has reduced forest cover in this country from 52% in the early 1950s to a meager 7% today. With the forest gone, the tribals in most areas today, live on the verge of starvation, as their natural food is just not scarce. Yet they are loathe leaving their natural and ancient surroundings to go elsewhere. Thus often, in Orissa, when a cyclone strikes the casualties are heavy.
The only exception to this rule is perhaps the tiny hamlet of Taramakanta.
In Keonjhar District of Orissa there is a small hamlet called Taramakanta. It is located some 400 km south of Calcutta. Till 18 years ago, the poor, simple tribal folk went their lonely way, barely eking out a subsistence on the roots they collected from the forest, small game ensnared in primitive traps, the single rain-fed crop harvested through "Jhooming" ( shifting cultivation i.e. burning the forest, taking two/ three crops and moving to another strip ) and the occasional wage of Rs.5/- per day from jungle contractors. Being simple and living in pre-mediaeval times, their wants were limited and they were fair game for outsiders, who came allegedly to help them. Numerous grants and doles given through the various Five year plans of the Govt. of India to assist the tribals hardly made a dent in their living conditions, as more often than not, the intended recipient got a fraction of the envisaged aid.
You can see a smile on the faces of the tribals. This has come about through the efforts of a dedicated band of young tea planters, who spurned the luxuries of civilization - air-conditioners, running hot and cold water and the true spirit of the pioneer braved numerous hazards. In a short span, they have converted waste land, which would have turned into desert within 50 years, into a nuclei of verdant green - an area where today malaria, etc. is being eradicated.
This is the magic of Bhuyanpirh - the creation of a new tea estate, which is now seven years old. Today, it employs at peak levels nearly one thousand tribals, giving them a wage of nearly Rs.1500/- per month. Additionally, offers them better living conditions, looks after their health and is beginning to educate their children. Tea in India has historically been grown in the Sub-Himalayan regions and the South. Sporadic attempts made over the years to establish tea in other parts of the country were never followed up systematically. As a consequence, tea experts arrived at the erroneous conclusion that the development of tea in other parts of India was not feasible. Orissa as considered being one such area.
In 1982, the Government of Orissa invited TM&MC ( Tea Manufacturing and Marketing Consultants Private Limited ) to set up a tea estate in the State. When TM&MC led by Mr. Basant Dube took up the challenge, there was a lot more at stake than the mere success of a venture. What had to be proved in essence was that tea could be grown commercially in Central India. TM&MC joined hands with the government of Orissa to create a joint sector company called ORISSA TEA PLANTATIONS LIMITED. Though there were numerous problems including some, which were logistical as the selected area was in the wilderness and totally cut off from civilization with the nearest rail track some four hours by car, Mr. Dube and his band of dedicated managers took up the challenge.
A nursery with tea cuttings brought in from Assam commenced in 1983 and the first planting of 10 hectares was completed in 1984. It was hard work, but pioneering work always is. From clearing the wasteland, getting the soil into the right condition was no easy task. Painstakingly every detail and requirement was checked and fulfilled, as this was essential in order to achieve success. Today, there are 213 hectares under tea out of a possible 400 hectares. The garden is 100% clonal.
Experts from the private sector as well as Government institutions who visited the estate are now convinced their earlier views regarding the development had been premature. The quality of work and progress achieved at Bhuyanpirh has been recognized as impressive. This is evident from the extract of a report prepared by Senior Officers of NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) CSIR (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research) of the Government of India and the financing bank.
"The success of this project has demonstrated that a compatible combination of financial agencies, dedicated professionals and the vision of responsive government can transfer the wasteland into green nuclei of prosperity with attendant socio-economic benefits to the poorest of the poor, besides changing the ecological face of the country. The land allocated by the State Govt. was degraded forest area, severely eroded and its natural organic matter burnt up by the sun. It shows how dedication to environment and concentrated effort can transform wasteland".
Bhuyanpirh is situated on a plateau surrounded by hills at an altitude ranging between 1800 ft. to 2200 ft. with two perennial streams running through most of the land. The temperatures in this are vary widely during the seasons. From 44C during the summer to 0C in the winter. Humidity can fluctuate between 60% and 90% whilst; rainfall varies between 1000mm to 2055mm per year.
The teas when they first reached the market received acclaim from tasters the world over, which were impressed with the flavour and liquoring quality. The first invoice sold on the 25th April 1988 fetched a price of approx. Rs. 202/kg. In the auctions. Subsequent invoices also sold well and prices were comparable to those of Darjeeling's. Importers from Japan, USSR and West Germany bought a large portion of the produce.
In the 2000 season the Estate sold it's first 10,000 kgs at an average price that was higher than any garden in Assam and comparable to some of the better "Darjeeling-type" teas that are manufactured during the First Flush period by estates located at the foothills of the Himalayas.
Bhuyanpirh is an excellent self-drinking tea. The First Flush liquor is brisk and strong with the aroma intact. After the First Flush, Bhuyanpirh teas are more Assam(y) in character. However, it can be easily distinguished from the normal Assams as it has a distinct malty character and is brisker.
Bhuyanpirh has highlighted the benefits that accrue from growing tea in non-traditional areas and which motivated the Government of Orissa to embark on this pioneering project.
The biggest constraint in developing backward areas has been the investment required for providing the requisite infrastructure. Industrialisation through tea plantations needs virtually no infrastructure, except for roads, with the benefit of not disturbing ecological balances.
Tea estates provide employment at the unique rate of no less than 3 persons per hectare. Bhuyanpirh already employs about 600 tribal persons on a regular basis. The number goes up to over nine hundred at peak periods.
The planting of 13,000 to 16,000 tea bushes and 300 to 500 shade trees per hectare creates essential cover for degraded lands with its attendant ecological benefits. For example, soil erosion is arrested while cultivation practices involving mulching and use of fertilizers help rejuvenate the soil. With the tribals being provided employment, not only has indiscriminate feeling of trees and jhooming been reduced but also the local flora and fauna are being swiftly restored.
In keeping with the balanced development of the region Non-Governmental Organisations also take interest in the well being of the tribals and the development of Bhuyanpirh has played a crucial note.
With success in establishing the production base and proof in the year 2000 that Bhuyanpirh can consistently produce good quality, plans are being made to plant an additional 200-300 hectares over the next couple of years. This will provide livelihood for at least another 300 tribal families in the region.
More importantly, the Tea Board of India and the Government have set up a Task Force of Orissa to allocate land-less tribals with land up to 1 hectare per family. Initially the tribal farmers would be absorbed into the project for implementation for a period of 4 years. During this period they would be paid wages as per the ongoing Development schemes of the Government. Once the fields are producing tea leaves their earnings would be fixed as per the output. Bhuyanpirh Tea factory would buy the green leaf at a rate to be pre-determined by the government and the Tea Board, so that the farmers are paid a fair price. A total area of 500 hectares will be allocated in 5 year tune i.e. 100 hectares per year. That is another 500 families.
Al this also will help soil conservation, stop deforestation. The planting of shade trees which is essential for the Tea bushes, particularly during the hot summer months will help the environment further.
Can you imagine what this means for the poor in the area? Suddenly they see hope for themselves and they can dream of a future for their children.
This is all going to happen and we are going to make it happen. But we need your help.
Despite all the success the profitability at Bhuyanpirh remains low. In fact 1999 will b the first year when the estate will not have made cash loss. There are a number of reasons for these. Amongst them are:
(a) Higher cost of inputs, resulting from the location of the estate
(b) Low yields
(c) Higher costs of sales, again resulting from the location of the estate.
(d) High cost of development.
Orissa Tea plantation Ltd. Are however committed to the tribals and poor-folk in the area and determined to make the project self-sufficient in the long run. This can be possible only if the teas manufactured receive adequate support from buyers and realize prices that enable the Company to improve facilities for manufacture and the living conditions of the workers. It is essential that better quality be produced. In order to achieve this OTP are considering the possibility of marketing the produce, which currently is only 1,35,000 kgs directly to overseas Buyers.
Whilst one could align the Company with various agencies that offer some aid to develop facilities in such instances, OTP would rather do it on its own.
We would therefore request you to look closer at offers of Bhuyanpirh Tea. Think about the poor tribals who depend on the success of this estate for their livelihood.
When you buy Bhuyanpirh directly from OTP you contribute directly to the development of the poor, backward people in a very remote region in India. Directly not through various agencies where a large portion of your contribution is lost on overheads. Every kilo counts and each kilo helps in keeping the smile on the face of the tribals in the region and each extra cent you give, helps to rehabilitate them, care better for them and educate their children so that they can aspire for a better life.