Government has agreed to provide a one-off allowance to tea growers to support them with respect to losses incurred on plantations as a result of the lockdown period due the COVID-19 pandemic for the period March 2020 to June 2020. In this context, an official ceremony was organised this afternoon at the Nouvelle France Multipurpose Complex for the remittance of cheques to some 35 tea growers.
The Attorney General, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Maneesh Gobin, the Minister of Financial Services and Good Governance, Mr Mahen Kumar Seeruttun, and other eminent personalities were present on this occasion.
In his keynote address, Minister Gobin recalled that several planters and breeders were affected due to the lockdown in 2020 and as such, among the several measures announced by Government in order to support them, it was decided that a one-off allowance be granted to tea growers.
He highlighted that the quantum payable stands at Rs 8,000 per arpent and that some 1,065 planters cultivating over 940 arpents will benefit from the scheme for an amount of about Rs 7.5 million. Apart from planters present for the official ceremony, the first payment is being effected today for about 400 planters in Nouvelle France and the vicinity, who will receive their cheques by post.
Minister Gobin further informed that, as from next week, tea growers in Dubreuil, Bois Cheri and Grand Bois will also receive their grant. He observed that one of the major challenges facing the tea sector is the scarcity of labour. In order to address the same and facilitate the harvest of tea leaves while at the same time providing tea planters affordable solutions to reduce their cost of production, budget 2021/22 made provision to provide a one-off grant to each registered tea planter to acquire a Mini Electrical Tea Harvester, observed Mr Gobin.
Moreover, the Agro-Industry Minister underscored that the tea sector is a very promising one, as confirmed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in one of its reports. He expressed his belief that there can be an increase in the area under tea cultivation, while underlining that some 1,500 tons of tea is produced locally on an annual basis, while the local consumption stands at 1,800 tons each year. In addition, some 50,000 seedlings have been produced and will be distributed to planters, he added.
As for Minister Seeruttun, he underlined that the payment of the one-off allowance aims at supporting tea planters who suffered due to the lockdown last year. He expressed his belief that the tea sector can thrive, adding that there is a need to encourage more youth to join the sector.
Furthermore, he dwelt on the FAO report concerning the tea sector in Mauritius before reminding that necessary sanitary precautions must still be thoroughly observed so as to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus locally.