Tea industry launches pilot scheme with Israeli company to tackle drought

By TheHindu on 26 Nov 2016

V Geetanath» $("#RepCont").mouseover(function() { $("#repfuldes").css({display: 'block', position:'absolute'}); } ) $("#RepCont").mouseout(function() { $("#repfuldes").css("display", "none"); } ) B Rishikesh Bahadurdesai» $("#RepCont").mouseover(function() { $("#repfuldes").css({display: 'block', position:'absolute'}); } ) $("#RepCont").mouseout(function() { $("#repfuldes").css("display", "none"); } ) Zahid Rafiq» $("#RepCont").mouseover(function() { $("#repfuldes").css({display: 'block', position:'absolute'}); } ) $("#RepCont").mouseout(function() { $("#repfuldes").css("display", "none"); } ) TOPICS beverages tea
human interest plant
water water harvesting The Indian tea industry has suffered two consecutive years of crop loss due to drought like conditions in the first three months of the year.

Drip irrigation technology offered by the Indian subsidiary of an Israeli company was being harnessed on a pilot basis in a few gardens in north and south India amid growing concern over crop loss due to paucity of rainfall.

The Indian tea industry, especially the gardens in the north Indian tea estates in Assam and West Bengal, has suffered two consecutive years of crop loss due to drought like conditions in the first three months of the year. These two States account for 75 per cent of Indian’s annual tea output, which averages at around 1,000 million kg.

The impact was severe in 2013, when nearly half the crop (amounting to nearly 20 million kg.) of the first quarter was lost to adverse weather conditions. This year, the impact is perhaps less but “what is worrisome is that it is a decline on a decline.. the trend is persisting and early estimates reveal that over a million tonne has been lost in March 2015 over the same month in 2014,” Monojit Dasgupta, Secretary General of the Indian Tea Association, the apex body of the north Indian tea industry told The Hindu.

He said that drip irrigation was being tried out on an experimental basis at certain tea estates with different agro-climatic conditions. He said that this was part of ITA’s initiative towards establishing sustainable farm practices at the tea gardens. “We have recently associated with the Netherlands (Utrecht) based Solidaridad for this,” he said.

The organisation supports a network of nine regional centres, which pioneers, innovates and are transition managers in sustainable farm practices. The thrust really is on water-conservation and water-harvesting, Mr. Dasgupta said, adding that practices such as creation of water bodies, collecting water on roof tops of tea factories and ground water recharging would be addressed.

While the January to March period was not one of high production, but the tea-season commences from March.

And the production of some of the priciest teas commence during this period. Weather uncertainties worry the industry which has tried out methods such as ‘canopy irrigation’, which often leads to over irrigation of the plant leading to stunting and retarding of the root-system.

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