Monday, 30th October 2017

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Tea auction sales put off in Guwahati

Government is supposed to issue standard operating protocol for tea gardens

  • Published 25.03.20, 1:50 AM
  • Updated 25.03.20, 1:50 AM
  • a min read
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Social distancing in a tea garden in Upper Assam Telegraph picture

Tea auction sales have been put off in auctions in the country because of Covid-19 while the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA), an umbrella organisation of the tea producers’ associations, has decided to cooperate and co-ordinate with the government in every possible way at this hour of crisis.

An official in Guwahati Tea Auction Centre said sales have been put on hold for the 21-day lockdown beginning from Tuesday midnight.

Representatives of tea producer associations at Calcutta, Guwahati, Golaghat, Dibrugarh and Jorhat discussed the situation through videoconferencing vis-à-vis the lockout in the state.

“We discussed with the Assam government on the government notification and decided to close down garden operations in Assam. Essential services will continue on roster basis,” Bidyananda Barkakoty, adviser, North Eastern Tea Association (NETA), said.

He said CCPA will take up with central and state governments on financial loss and other aspects — immediate relief and short term and long term aid after things normalise.

“Human life is more important than anything else and therefore, we will cooperate with the government,” he said.

Plucking had just picked up in gardens in Assam and this is the first-flush period. Leaves plucked during the first flush are the youngest and the most tender part of the tea plant and are said to yield the purest and freshest cup of tea that the plant is capable of producing.

The first flush from March to April is the first plucking after the dormant winter months. The leaves are tender and light green. The liquor is light, clear and bright with a pleasant and brisk flavour.

“However, essential plant protection measures and irrigation may be required to avoid huge and permanent damage to tea plants. These two activities can be carried out with very limited number of workers and by maintaining social distancing. We will seek necessary permission from authorities as and when required,” he said.

He said the government is supposed to issue standard operating protocol for tea gardens as per the video conferencing with Assam chief secretary on March 21.

The Assam government told the industry that it will take over garden hospitals for the next two months.