The Telegraph
Thursday , October 10 , 2013
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Real-time tech solution to planters’ queries

- Tocklai institute launches mobile application on Android and iOS platforms

Guwahati, Oct. 9: Tea planters are set for real-time solutions.

Tea Research Association at Tocklai, the oldest and largest research station of its kind, has now gone tech-savvy and developed a mobile application christened TRA Tocklai on Android and iOS platforms, through which tea planters/growers can ask questions real-time and get quick replies.

The mobile application for tea research, which is the first of its kind in the world, was launched at the 49th annual general meeting of Tea Association of India in Calcutta on October 4. M.G.V.K. Bhanu, chairman of the Tea Board of India, officially launched the application, which was originally conceived by Joydeep Phukan, secretary, TRA.

Phukan said there is a provision for all planters/small growers to ask questions real-time and the application will help people associated with the tea industry to seek information on Indian tea from their mobile devices.

“If they are in an estate and want an answer, they can click a photo of the problem or type in their question and upload the same to get an answer from the relevant scientist,” Phukan told The Telegraph.

“The queries will be replied to within 24 hours,” he said.

Phukan said the Tocklai Tea Encyclopaedia is regarded as the bible for all research and development work done in the past 100 years and has more than 1,000 pages. “All the contents of this encyclopaedia has been uploaded in the application,” he added. “We will make the contents available in Assamese and Bengali in the next few months,” he said. The application has been designed by Fluglesoft Technologies, Guwahati.

Tea Research Association, India (TRA Tocklai) has been the trendsetter for all scientific research on tea in the world since 1911, right from planting materials, engineering solutions such as the CTC (crush, tear, curl), Rotorvane and other aspects of research and development. Multidisciplinary research and development activities at Tocklai are categorised into five groups, production, plant improvement, plant protection, quality and environment and ecology. The advisory department, with its extension network throughout the tea districts of South Bank, North Bank, Upper Assam, Cachar, Tripura, Dooars (Nagrakata sub-station). Terai and Darjeeling, deals with the transfer of technology at field levels.

TRA officials usually make two routine visits in a year to gardens for diagnosing the problems and look after 1,100 gardens in Assam and West Bengal, which produce about 80 per cent of the tea production. “It is a great application and we are thinking about making it available on normal phones too so that even small growers can be benefited,” Arun Singh, the chairman of the Indian Tea Association, told The Telegraph. “I tried it immediately on my iPad and there really is a huge amount of interesting information for tea people,” said Thomas Henn, director of Teegschwendner, a large German tea importing company.

Atik Dharmadi, the secretary of the Indonesia Tea Association and Peter F. Goggi executive vice-president, Tea Association of the USA, has thanked TRA for the innovation.