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Ex-bomb-maker who grows tea

- Planter relishes a challenge as he waits to fulfil order for Japan group
Jayanta Boro and (below) his tea estate in Udalguri district. Telegraph pictures

Jorhat, May 18: The lure lay in the challenge — be it making a crude bomb as a juvenile in terrorist-overrun Bodoland, picking up the threads of tea production as a young man or, at present, fulfilling a huge order placed by a group from Japan.

Jayanta Boro, 34, a small tea grower in Udalguri district of the Bodoland Territorial Areas District of Assam has never shirked from picking up the gauntlet.

Boro, whose plantation is located at Dima Kusi near the foothills of the Indo-Bhutan border, told The Telegraph over phone that he was awaiting permission from the Tea Board of India to install machinery so that he could fulfil the order placed by the Japanese group, one of the largest producers of organic tea.

“Every year, I roll out about 200kg of handmade organic tea which is sold locally for Rs 1,500 and more. But the amount I produce is too little for export. I cannot make more than this by hand and I have sought permission from the Tea Board to set up a mini factory so that I can manufacture more,” he said. Boro, who received the order at the first International Farmers’ Fair that was held at Khanapara in Guwahati from December 17 last year, was, however, not willing to name the Japanese group that has placed an order with him “because of the competition”. “I had taken 5kg of organic tea to the fair as a sample and it was sold out instantly. Among the buyers was the Japanese group. I have kept in touch with them and told them that I will supply whatever amount they require once I manufacture a large quantity,” he said.

Among his regular customers are teachers and professors of colleges, a soldier who carried Boro’s handmade tea for his family in Kashmir and even the present manger of Attareekhat tea estate, R. Choudhury, who said he “sometimes bought tea from Boro”. Boro’s tryst with tea started when his father bought a piece of land and asked him to cultivate tea on it “because everyone here is taking to this crop”. This also kept Boro from joining the Bodoland movement in the nineties and early 2000. “When I was in Class VIII, I used to secretly run off to nearby camps to watch others make bombs. I was intrigued by how a bomb was made and thought that if they could do it, so could I. It was not that I thought beyond the making of it or was enamoured by the killing. The challenge was in the making of it,” he said.

This thirst for knowledge stood him in good stead when he took to tea growing.

“In 1999, my father and I knew nothing about the technicalities of growing tea. The manager of nearby Attareekhat tea estate, a McLeod Russel garden, suggested that I take training at Tocklai Experimental Station or Assam Agricultural University in Jorhat.” After that Boro took training at the tea husbandry and technology department of AAU.

“I came to AAU twice for training and then as a team leader in 2003. It was here that I came into contact with the Singphos and went to Margherita in Tinsukia district in 2006 where Rajesh Singpho, Pabitra Lyngda, Amiya Lyngda and Manjela Singpho taught me the nitty-gritty of handmade tea. Everyone has contributed to my growth as an organic tea grower. I also picked up a lot at a convention on green tea held at Makaibari tea estate in Darjeeling in 2010. That year, I began organic tea plantation on 50 bighas,” he said.

He also attended a meet of UPASI (United Planters’ Association of Southern India), an apex body of planters of tea, coffee, rubber, pepper and cardamom, at Konoor in Kerala in 2007.

For Boro, the quest for knowledge continues to be as intense as his passion to stand the test of challenge.


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