The Telegraph
Thursday , March 20 , 2014
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Tea tastes new code

Calcutta, March 19: The Tea Board today issued the Plant Protection Code (PPC) to ensure sustainability and better quality of the brew.

The mandatory guidelines for planters will minimise the use of pesticides.

“The Tea Board is of the view that effective adoption of the PPC will enable the industry to safeguard the plantation environment, ensure welfare of the workers and small farmers and secure long-term supply,” Tea Board chairman Siddharth said.

“Consumers are increasingly demanding higher quality products with reduced environmental impact. Given this objective and to sustain the ever increasing appetite for Indian tea, the need for adopting the correct plant protection practices has become imperative,” he said.

A technical committee comprising members of the tea industry, the Tea Research Institute of Upasi, Tea Research Foundation, international certification bodies and the Trustea advisory committee, designed the PPC.

The code specifies the maximum residue limits for permissible plant protection formulations (PPF). This specifies the maximum amount of pesticide residue permitted in tea leaves after harvesting and processing. It asks planters to avoid blanket sprays of pesticides in fields during the growing season and recommends spot sprays. At present, there are 33 pesticides permitted by the Central Insecticides Board for use on tea in India.

“While the industry is committed to reduce the pesticide load on tea, there is apprehension of a loss of crop,” ITA chairman Arun N. Singh said.

Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty, president of the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Associations, said the declared guidelines would be of particular benefit to the small growers.

Tea gardens have also been asked to send a sample of the PPFs to the tea research institutes to check its purity.

Along with a list of measures for efficient pest management, the code outlines guidelines for safe disposal of containers, transportation, storage and application of PPFs.

Last year, the board had introduced the Trustea code to address issues such as stagnating yields, old age of bushes and a dwindling availability of labour force.

However, it was a voluntary process and depended on the estates and factories to monitor the production process and adhere to the prescribed standards.