Arunachal Tea Fest: Taki advocates growing organic tea

PASIGHAT, 14 Feb: Agriculture & Horticulture Minister Tage Taki on Tuesday said that the tea growers of the state should move towards becoming fully organic in their cultivation methods.

He was speaking at the first Arunachal Tea Festival, held at The Lhoba Resort on the bank of the Siang river here in East Siang district.

Organised by the Arunachal Pradesh Agriculture Marketing Board, the festival brought together

 tea growers, promoters and enthusiasts from across the state. The festival organisers said that it was aimed to not just celebrate the legacy of tea cultivation of the state but also to provide a platform for tea cultivators to exchange ideas with one another and learn ways to improve their products.

Describing the event as “historic,” Taki said that the state’s tea growers should use the platform to learn from one another.

“We should not be left behind as the world moves to organic cultivation,” he said.

Taki said also that the tea growers should learn about economically feasible cultivation methods, “such as smaller plantations,” and should inform the government about the challenges and suggestions that they may have.

Notably, he was critical of some of the existing forest-related policies of the country, stating that currently they do not support harnessing of forest products, which leads to delays in obtaining forest clearances for tea plantations.

Earlier, Agriculture Director Anong Lego said that the tea growers of the state have not been able to avail benefits from the Tea Board of India “due to hurdles in obtaining certain forest clearances.”

He informed also that “around 150 hectares of tea plantations in the state are currently growing their tea organically, ie, without the use of chemical fertilisers.”

Following a tea tasting session with Romen Gogoi, senior tea taster of the Jorhat (Assam)-based Tocklai Tea Research Institute, tips were given to the tea growers about how to improve their end products.

Gogoi later said that “the organic tag must mean continued practice of organic methods.”

While he did point to certain areas of improvement, Gogoi said that, overall, “the produce of the state is of good quality.”

On the policy front, he said that events like the Arunachal Tea Festival need to be held regularly and experts need to be brought in on a regular basis to train and provide feedback to the growers to help them with cultivation and processing of tea.

A session themed ‘Marketing of tea for tea blenders in Arunachal/NER by M-Junction’ was conducted by tea taster Rituraj Hazarika, the branch head of the Jorhat Tea E-Marketplace, which manages the Jorhat tea auction centre.

Assam Agricultural University Assistant Professor Dr Diganta Kumar Bora also spoke.