Jorhat, Aug. 28: The Tocklai Experimental Station has put in place a mechanism which will pre-empt other countries from stealing tea clones developed by the research institute.
Henceforth, tea clones and seeds released by the Tocklai Experimental Station here will be protected under the Plant Variety and Farmers’ Right Authority (PPV&FRA), whose National Tea Task Force, New Delhi, recently finalised the guidelines for registering them.
After the procedure is complete, other tea gardens will have to consult the institute after developing a new variety for plantation, so that there is no overlap.
In a meeting headed by National Tea Task Force chairman R.R. Hanchinal in Tocklai on Saturday, 21 characteristics by which tea clones and seeds would be evaluated were fixed, said Devajit Borthakur, in-charge of the department of plant physiology and breeding at the institute.
“Tocklai is now in a position to protect its intellectual properties vis-a-vis clones and seed stocks under PPV&FRA, New Delhi,” Borthakur said.
The more than 100-year-old research institute has 31 clones, 14 seed stocks and 153 garden series clones.
“Each of these have been evaluated in 21 parameters like leaf size, seed quality and flower variety. These will all be registered with the Plant Variety and Farmers’ Right Authority that will protect our intellectual property from being stolen,” Borthakur said.
Garden series clones refer to clones named after the tea gardens where trials were conducted.
With growing competition between China and India and upcoming regions like Kenya and Sri Lanka entering the tea sector, it has become imperative to protect clones developed by Tocklai, Borthakur said.
“Superior tea clones released by us cannot be claimed by any of these countries once the registration is completed. Otherwise they can face action at the international level,” he said.
In the first phase, from 2009 to 2013, the department was engaged in evaluating the characters present in each clone and seed, which Tocklai Experimental Station had released, so that the parameters could be fixed.
“Any garden will have to get back to Tocklai and enumerate all the 21 characters under which registration of a clone can be done to ensure that the characters differ from our clones. If found to be overlapping with any of the ones released by us then they cannot claim it to be their own,” Borthakur said.
The process to get the guidelines notified is on.