Shillong,April 10: The Tea Board of India on 08-04-2017, organized a 1(one) workshopprogramme for the Tea farmers of Meghalaya on organic tea cultivation in Meghalaya, where it was attended by Shri S. Hazra, Deputy Director of Small Tea Growers Development Directorate from Dibrugarh, Shri DM Kakati, the Assistant Director, Tea Development Guwahati, with Smt Silchina G. Momin Development Officer, Sub Regiopnal Tea Board Office, Umsning., members of the Meghalaya Small Tea Growers’ Federation, a body which was constituted by The Ribhoi Tea Growers’ Association, The Mawlyngot Tea Growers’ Society and the West Garo Hills Tea Farmers Federation warmly welcomed the dignitaries. Shri K.W. Chyne, secretary of the Federation has appreciated the initiatives taken by Tea Board and the national level association, the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Associations (CISTA) for holding such important programme, who has highlighted the problems faced by the Small Tea Growers of Meghalaya and organic certification is one of the steps forward for value addition and sustainability. He also narrated as to how the Organic certified gardens of Small Tea Growers of Ribhoi district, started the Arsla Organic Tea Growers’ and Producers’ Cooperative Society Ltd. in 2013, to start an organic tea processing unit, in a near future to capitalize for the long term sustainability through this highly potential product. He also stated that from the farmers’ standpoint, it is needed to look beyond organic certification alone as quality and sustainability should have been the main focus, for the sustainability of farmers.
Shri Maqbool Lyngdoh Suiam, Assistant Director, Agriculture as a resource person, who is also holding charge of the Tea Development Centre, Umsning, through his presentation; explained all the intricacies of step by step details of organic certification as envisaged under the laid down standards of National Programme of Organic Production (NPOP). He also informed that the First Organic Tea Project initiated by the Directorate of Horticulture, Govt. Of Meghalaya, in the year 2009-10 with a small area of 150 Ha, has made a major breakthrough where the certification process have obtained both National and International Standards viz NPOP, NOP/USDA & EU. He further commented that tea produced from the Government Farms of Umsning and Upper Shillong command a good price in the market.
Dr. Souvik Sen, Assistant Advisory Officer of Tea Research Association, as another resource person of the workshop, through his presentation; dwelt on the technical aspects covering from farm management, Pruning, skiffing, level of skiff, to soil nutrient management, pest management through extracts from locally available plants and herbs which are not cost effective only, but control the pest attacks and help as nutrients to nourish the health of the soil for improved productivity.
Others, who spoke on the Occasion, were Shri Gasper Shylla, DHO, Ribhoi district, as a special Guest, President of CISTA, and officials from Tea Board who were specially enthusiastic and stressed about the programme on Organic Tea cultivation.
In the second half of the programme, the CISTA had a National Executive Council Meeting, with participants from West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Nagaland besides the host state of Meghalaya, who had threadbare discussions about their problems and status across various regions of the country. For the traditional and non-traditional areas of North Eastern states, it was stressed that unit cost of plantations cannot be based from that of the plains of Assam, but be arrived at separately for the hilly areas and with promotional incentives by means of enhanced subsidies to 75% both for Plantations and for micro and mini processing units, so that it can have an impact of quality tea, and that the potential area can stand focussed for its natural and or certified organic tea products.