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NBU draws up tea science syllabus

Siliguri, May 9: North Bengal University has framed a “comprehensive” syllabus for a post-graduate degree course in tea science that will be introduced from the next academic session beginning in August.

NBU is the first institution in the country to offer a full-fledged PG course in tea science.

Sources said the fee for the two-year MSc programme would be Rs 1.2lakh.

“The varsity had formed a six-member committee in January to finalise the details of the course, including the syllabus, fee, student strength, infrastructure and faculty. We finished preparing the syllabus last month and it is a comprehensive one covering all aspects like cultivation, soil study, manufacturing, flavour technology, tea trade and labour laws,” said S.E. Kabir, an assistant professor in tea management department of NBU and a member of the committee.

The university has been offering a one-year PG diploma in tea management since 1995.

Last year, the Tea Board of India had proposed the tea science course and offered an annual assistance of Rs 3 lakh to the university

“We have applied to the UGC for grants to the tea management department. Till the time we get the grant, the PG degree course will be a self-financed one. The course fee would be Rs 1.2 lakh per student. The tea board’s grant of Rs 3 lakh per year will be an additional help,” Kabir said.

He added that the course would comprise more practical sessions than theory classes and the focus would be on visits to tea gardens and soil testing in the varsity laboratory.

“NBU will be the first university (in the country) to introduce a full-fledged PG degree course in tea science. Right now, the agriculture universities in Assam and Himachal Pradesh offer special papers in tea husbandry in the MSc agriculture course,” said Kabir.

“Students will grasp (the course) better if they visit tea estates and see techniques of plucking, pruning and pest control. In the factories, they will get to see the manufacturing and packing processes. The paper on flavour technology will involve tea tasting sessions. Soil testing will also be conducted in our laboratory to find out its organic composition, deficiencies and fertilisers that need to be added. We will have experts to deliver first-hand information to students on all aspects of tea trade,” Kabir said.

The varsity has decided to enrol 20 students in the first batch. Graduates in botany, chemistry, microbiology, biotechnology and mathematics can apply for the MSc course.

“An advertisement for admissions will be issued after the publication of the UG results. There are two teachers in the (tea management) department now, including me. We plan to recruit two more faculty members,” Kabir said.