Recent concerns over quality of Assam tea
Over the last few weeks various news items and even editorials have been published in English news dailies of the region in connection with the deteriorating quality of Assam tea. One such news reported that the President of a Tea Dealer's Body had raised concerns about the fall in Assam Tea's reputation as the 'full-bodied cup of a satisfying brew' due to unregulated increase in production over the past years. The news items and editorial that followed in the same widely circulated daily also raised the issue and seemed to attribute the fall in quality primarily to the small tea growers sector. However, it is pertinent to note that entrepreneurs of the region who have taken to tea cultivation have not only brought in better scientific magement of the tea crop but have also led to marketing of premium tea through the brought-leaf factory setup, thereby realising better price in both domestic as well as the global markets. Many have also taken to the organic and hand-made tea route with the help and technical support of concerned agencies like Tea Board of India to cater to the growing demand for organic products.
Made tea quality has many aspects like presence of preferred organoleptic properties (mainly taste and appearance), biochemical constitution, consumer choice of grades and type based on the processing and absence of harmful contamints that might have crept in during the chain of activities starting right from the gardens to the consumer's cup. Quality Evaluation of Tea is therefore a complex process and most often traders fall back upon traditiolly set norms to ascertain the market value of made tea. The most extensively traded and consumed Tea (i.e. black tea) in the Indian domestic market is primarily of the CTC (Crush/Tear/Curl) type which is distinct from the manufacturing process of Orthodox (long leaf) type of tea. Few years back there were concerns relating to loss of reputation of Indian CTC tea due to blending of cheap and often bland tasting tea from multiple sources by unscrupulous traders.
Vital to maintaining the region's leadership at the major producer of tea in the country would be to strengthen the small tea growers sector of the state even further.Support from all stakeholders in order to sustain the current upward trend in production while at the same time maintaining the reputation of Assam tea intact by ensuring better Traceability and Quality Assessment is therefore the need of the hour.
Dr Ranjan K. Bhagobaty,
Litmus test for Modi
Forthcoming Gujurat elections in December will definitely be Litmus test for Prime Minister Modi led BJP. The party is in power for the last 22 years and definitely facing anti incumbency factor. If the party can retain the western state of India it will be a huge morale booster for the leaders and workers of the party prior to mega showdown in 2019. One must admit BJP is in the most difficult wicket in Gujurat this time around. On the other land Rahul Gandhi too faces biggest test of his career as soon after the polls he is going to lead the grand old party of India. Till now Congress is decimated in many stares in recent elections. But Congress leaders who has the habit of worshipping Nehru-Gandhi this time too they are elevating scion of the pseudo Gandhi family.
GNB Road, Guwahati.