Low Cost Organic Tea Production: A Sustainable Livelihood Option for Small Tea Growers
Workshop-cum-training organised on ‘Organic tea cultivation at low input cost’, Udalguri, Assam
Udalguri, Assam- March 21, 2016: A two-day residential workshop-cum-training programme for small tea growers of Udalguri was organised by Centre for Education and Communication (CEC) on March 21 and 22.
Titled, ‘Practicing Low Cost Organic Tea Production’, the programme was conducted at Jesuit Bhawan, Tezpur. The event saw participation of over 24 Small Tea Growers (STGs).
CEC, which has been collectivizing the small tea growers into Primary Producer Societies (PPSs), has been imparting agricultural and technical training to small tea growers since 2011.
While collectivization helps small tea growers to improve the bargaining power for their leaves with the factories, training helps them to improve the quality of leaves for negotiating better price.
In the programme, renowned scientist Dr. Soumen Palit apprised the growers on the methods and benefits of organic tea production. He discussed on various methods of composting like NADEP, Cow Pat Pit (CPP) and Vermi composting. He also informed the participant tea cultivators/growers, the important formulations for soil enrichment and preparation of cost-effective and safe liquid manures.
“Organic tea cultivation requires around 20 per cent lower input costs by way of not applying chemicals, fertilisers and pesticides,” said Dr. Palit. “Organic fertilisers generally used in organic farming are time-tested materials for improving the fertility and productivity of soil”, he added.
Dr. Palit also articulated on pest management which he said could be done by agronomic and biological practices.
PPSs such as Rwdwmsha, Rwdwmkhang, Sona Bilai and Daogafu attended the training. Small tea growers from Kunderbill, Jeevan Jyoti, Milanjyoti and Amchigui PPSs were also present.
Technical training is crucial for efficient and ambitious PPSs interested in moving up the tea value chain.
The 12th Plan, Tea Development and Promotion Scheme, Tea Board of India, Ministry of Commerce and Industry encourages production of organic tea. The document states that financial support will be extended by way of capital subsidy on the investment to be made for new planting / re-planting or conversion from conventional to organic cultivation.
The subsidy provided is 25 per cent more than the subsidy applicable for conventional extension/ replanting/ replacement.
CEC’s training effort was under the ‘Sustainable Livelihood for Small Tea Growers’ programme, in association with European Commission.