By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, February 4: The Tea Board has asked the small tea growers to follow the Plant Protection Code, a set of guidelines for regulating the chemical inputs in tea cultivation, and not use any banned chemicals or pesticides.
In a recent directive to all the producers associations, the board asked the tea growers to give a declaration to the factories stating that they have not used any chemicals and pesticides banned in India. “In the event of detection of any banned pesticides or chemicals or if the chemical residues are found beyond the prescribed limit, the Tea Board is free to take appropriate action,” it said in the circular.
The tea growers will have to provide the declaration to the factories to which they supply the green leaf.
The small tea growers have welcomed the move but said that the board must ensure that the prescribed pesticides and chemicals are available at the grassroot level.
“We have been intimated by the board. We welcome the move and we will follow it. But at the same time, the board must ensure that the banned pesticides and chemicals are not available in the market. Also, the prescribed pesticides must be made available at the grassroot level and not just in key cities and towns,” vice president of the All Assam Small Tea Growers Association Karu Mahanta said.
He said there are several lakh small tea growers in the State. “Someone, especially those in remote areas, might ignorantly use the banned pesticides. The board must take adequate care in this regard. There must be an advisory label in the pesticides if it is not meant for use in tea gardens,” he added.
The Tea Board of India had launched the “Plant Protection Code” (PPC) to bring in a regime of sustaible plant protection practices.
The code is a best practice guide to tea production. Its objective is to minimize pesticide use, ensure the sustaibility of tea production, while continuing to improve the quality of tea for consumers.
The PPC is ground breaking as it outlines standards applicable to tea industry. The code was developed by a technical committee consisting of members from the Indian tea industry, the Tea Research Institute of UPASI, the Tea Research Foundation, the Tea Research Association, intertiol certification bodies, and few other organisations.
A comprehensive document that considers the sustaibility of practices for tea growth on Indian plantations while striving towards minimalistic chemical use in the tea growing process, the ‘plant protection code’ complements existing regulations, such as the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 and the list of products permitted for use in the tea sector by the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee.
The code encourages tea growers to critically review their plant protection formulations (PPF), which are a list of chemicals that are used in tea. The code is based on the Codex Alimentarius, which is a set of intertiol food standards and guidelines.