Arunachal Pradesh agriculture and horticulture minister Tage Taki said tea growers in the state should move towards becoming fully organic in their cultivation methods.
Tage Taki was speaking at the first Arunachal Tea Festival held at the Lhoba Resort on the banks of the Siang on the outskirts of Pasighat town in East Siang district on February 14.
Organised by the Arunachal Pradesh Agriculture Marketing Board (APAMB), the Arunachal Tea 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 each other and learn ways to improve their products.
Taki said that it was a historic day for the state and that tea growers should use the platform to learn from each other.
He also encouraged the use of organic tea cultivation methods.
“We should not be left behind as the world moves to organic cultivation,” Tage Taki said.
Taki also said that growers should learn about economically feasible cultivation methods such as smaller plantations, and 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 the harnessing of forest products when speaking about the delays in obtaining forest clearances for tea plantations.
Earlier, director of agriculture Anong Lego said tea growers in the state have not been able to avail benefits from the Tea Board of India due to hurdles in obtaining certain forest clearances.
He also mentioned that around 150 hectares of tea plantations in Arunachal Pradesh are currently growing their tea organically.
Following a tea tasting session with Romen Gogoi, senior tea taster with the Tea Research Association of the Jorhat-based Tocklai Tea Research Institute, tips were given to tea growers about how to improve their end products.
Gogoi later said that the organic tag must mean the continued practice of organic methods.
While he pointed to certain areas of improvement, Gogoi said overall the produce of the state is of good quality.
On the policy front, he said such 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 tea growers to help them with the cultivation and processing of tea.
A representative of a tea estate said that there were many challenges to the growth of the sector in Arunachal Pradesh, including an alleged lack of support from the Tea Board of India.
Sessions were also held on ‘Marketing of Tea for Tea Blenders in Arunachal/NER by M-Junction’ by tea taster Rituraj Hazarika, the branch head of the Jorhat Tea E-Marketplace that manages the Jorhat Tea Auction Centre, and tea blending with assistant professor of the Assam Agricultural University Diganta Kumar Bora, in charge of its tea processing unit in the tea husbandry and technology.