BREWING PROGRESS: BENGAL’S TEA HUB AIMS TO TRANSFORM THE INDUSTRY LANDSCAPE

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Sipping Success, One Leaf at a Time - Bengal's Tea Hub Brewing Innovation and Growth

In a strategic move to propel the tea industry forward, the Bengal government has earmarked a plot in Calcutta’s port area to establish a dedicated tea hub. This ambitious initiative aims to catalyze value addition for both domestic consumption and international export markets. Drawing inspiration from Dubai’s renowned DMCC Tea Centre, a major hub for blending, packaging, and tea exports in West Asia, the proposed Calcutta facility is poised to become a game-changer for smaller tea producers.

Unveiling the Vision: A State-of-the-Art Tea Park

The envisioned tea park, spanning a substantial 20 acres, is designed to house a common testing unit and a packaging and blending facility tailored to the needs of smaller tea producers. This approach mirrors the success of Dubai’s model, encouraging collaboration and shared resources within the industry. Larger players will also have the opportunity to secure plots within the tea park for establishing their independent units.

Port Collaboration: Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port’s Crucial Role

Rathendra Raman, Chairman of Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Calcutta, highlighted the port’s involvement in the project. The port will lease out the designated plot to the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), which will spearhead the initial investments required for setting up the essential facilities. This collaboration reflects a synergistic effort to boost the tea industry, leveraging the port’s strategic location.

From Concept to Reality: Chief Minister’s Impetus

The project gained significant momentum following Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s visit to Dubai in the latter half of 2023, where she actively sought potential investments. The WBIDC’s decision to explore the establishment of a tea park was informed by valuable feedback received from the tea industry. This endeavor aligns with the state’s commitment to fostering economic growth and innovation.

Customs-Bonded Warehouses: Preserving Tea Freshness

One distinctive advantage of the chosen port area is the possibility of setting up customs-bonded warehouses. This strategic move aims to streamline the logistics process by minimizing the number of times tea consignments are opened for inspection. By doing so, the tea retains its freshness, ensuring the preservation of quality throughout the supply chain. The state official overseeing the project expressed confidence, emphasizing that if Dubai, a non-tea-producing region, can successfully implement such initiatives, Bengal can certainly excel in this endeavor.

Value Addition Focus: A Paradigm Shift for Bengal’s Tea Industry

While Bengal produces some of the finest teas, there has been a historical oversight in emphasizing value addition aspects such as blending, packaging, and the production of tea bags or ready-to-drink bottled tea. This tea hub is positioned to address this gap by providing smaller players access to state-built facilities for packaging and blending. The government’s commitment extends to the establishment of high-end laboratories capable of conducting tests adhering to phytosanitary standards mandated by importing nations.

Exclusive Economic Zones: Paving the Way for Industrial Growth

In addition to the tea hub, Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port has identified two plots of land for the creation of exclusive economic zones (EEZ) dedicated to industrial activities. These zones, spanning 25 acres in Calcutta and 125 acres in Haldia, are anticipated to attract industries seeking a specialized environment. The EEZ initiative aims to ensure dedicated cargo for the port, aligning with the port’s broader expansion plans.

Charting the Course Forward: A Vision for Growth

Raman, while addressing the Bharat Chamber of Commerce, underscored the port’s commitment to accommodating industry demands. With a focus on developing essential facilities and attracting investments, the port aspires to handle 68 million tonnes of cargo by the end of the year, marking a 5% increase from the previous fiscal year.

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