Crops | VOL. 16, ISSUE 95, March-April 2016 |

Small Holders and Bengal’s Tea Industry

Since colonial times, the districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and North Dinajpur are well known for tea cultivation. Traditionally, tea was always grown in estates that were typically more than 10 hectares (ha). However, recent data in the Agricultural Census indicates that small and marginal holdings are increasingly changing their cropping pattern in favour of tea cultivation. It is an outcome of substantial government encouragement to prop-up large tea estates with the produce from small growers. Pattern of tea acreage: 1995-96 to 2010-11 Analysis of Agricultural Census data for the years 1995-96, 2000-01, 2005-06 and 2010-11 reveals the following trend: The concentration of area under tea crop continues to remain under estate farming, i.e., in land holdings above 20 ha where very little fluctuation is found across the years (Fig. 1). While there was no tea cultivation in land holdings of size below 20 ha in 1995-96, tea cultivation...

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