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Organic roots at fingertips

Darjeeling, Nov. 15: The Union commerce and industry ministry has decided to bring all exporters of organic products, including Darjeeling Tea, under a system that would help trace the origin of the produce.

After the launch of the system on January 17 at Biofach — the world’s largest trade fair for organic products in Luxemburg, Germany — the Agricultural and Processed Food and Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), a unit of the commerce ministry, will be in charge of the implementation.

All information related to the organic exports will be available on www.apeda.com.

The mechanism is expected to enhance the credibility of India’s certification procedures at a time the country is making rapid strides in organic exports.

Sudhanshu, the assistant general manager of APEDA, said: “The traceability system allows any customer to find out from which farm the particular product has been exported… If there is any problem with a particular farm, advisory will be issued to all the exporters not to buy the produce from that particular farm unless things are rectified.”

Of the 9.5 million Darjeeling Tea produced annually, 4 million kg is organic and the produce is expected to come under the ambit of this system.

The total organic tea exported from India— which includes Darjeeling, Assam and brew from South India — contribute around 20 per cent of the export and is valued at Rs 92.13 crore annually.

“Darjeeling Tea is under the purview of the Tea Trade Chain Integrity System to stop illegal mixing of Nepal and Darjeeling leaves. The new traceability system will ensure strict control on export of organic tea (only),” said Sanjay Bansal, the chairman of the Darjeeling Tea Association.

The Tea Board along with the Common Fund for Commodities, a unit of the United Nations based in Amsterdam, has started a $4-million pilot project in India to create a reference system on organic tea production.

Under it, model estates have been set up in Ambootia in Kurseong, Watetfall tea estate in Dibrugah (Assam) and Maud tea estate in Nilgiris, said G. Boriah, the director (tea development), Tea Board of India.

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