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Invention boon for gardens

- Small tea growers in Assam will soon make own brew

Jorhat, Jan. 1: Tea Research Association has joined hands with local inventor Uddhab Bharali to invent a machine that will allow small tea growers to make their own tea and sell it at their own price.

This would also help small tea growers get an identity for their tea.

At present, they sell their green leaf to bought leaf factories or larger tea gardens with their own factories, which would then make and market the tea.

“The machine, micro-mini CTC tea-processing plant, will be a New Year gift for the small tea growers. It is easy to operate and will come at a cheap price,” the director of Tea Research Station, N. Muraleedharan, told The Telegraph. The Tea Board of India has funded the joint TRA-Uddhab Bharali project.

The director said Bharali, who has tied up with the research association as an associate developer, has been working on the machine for nearly a year now and the same would be installed at Tocklai Experimental Station in February. “Our scientists will conduct a series of test runs before making the product available in the market,” he said. He, however, said going by the quality of tea produced by the machine, it will not take much time for the Tocklai scientists to finetune it, if at all required.

Bharali, who has designed and prototyped an entire range of mechanical innovations, has sent a few samples of tea produced by the machine to Tocklai a few days ago. “Tea produced by the machine is grainy, a little reddish, moderately bright, brisk and has a strong liquor, which are the qualities required for a good cup of Assam tea,” he said.

Bharali said over phone from his hometown Lakhimpur that the machine will most likely be ready by early this year, say before April.

“The machine is ready but it has to be finetuned. This will be done by the Tocklai scientists,” he said. The price of the machine would be below Rs 10 lakh. The biggest advantage of the machine, he said, is that it would require only a single-phase current and is very simple to operate. It requires a maximum of four people and domestic LPG is used for drying the leaves.

The machine has the ability to produce 100kg of made tea in one shift and would require an area of nearly 20 feet by 30 feet for installation.

Bharali added that another advantage of the machine would be that it would require no licence for installation. “Tea Board has agreed in this regard and we hope this would be a big advantage for the small tea growers,” he said.

The general secretary of the All-Assam Small Tea Growers Association, Karuna Mahanta, while welcoming such an invention, said it would be a big boost for the small tea growers sector.

Assam has nearly a lakh of small tea growers who produce nearly 30 per cent of the state’s over-500 million kg of tea annually.

Mahanta said this device would ensure that the small tea growers no longer depend on the bought leaf factories and big tea gardens to sell their produce. “We can fix our own price and will be in a position to capture the market,” he said.