Updated: July 16, 2019 8:55:14 pm
Diganta Barman, an official of Tea Board India, has designed an integrated concept machine for low-cost tea processing to be used by small tea growers. The machine takes Rs 15,000 to be set up and can process 2 kg tea per day with an expense of only Rs 50 in addition to the cost of raw material.
“Tea growers of Tripura are gradually turning towards specialised tea. They feel the state has a potential for specialised tea. Better marketing avenues have offered higher prospects for such varieties instead of the commonly practised CTC variant,” Barman told indianexpress.com.
Before taking up his assignment in Tripura, Diganta Barman served in various private tea estates at Dooars, Harrison Malayalam, HML, Lakua tea estate of Assam among others. He said to have developed his model based on his experiences in other states, where he saw a number of indigenously-designed tea-processing machines. The design has also been inspired from dryers designed by small tea growers like Kalyan Debbarma and Gopal Chakraborty.
The machine has a withering trough, roller, fermentation chamber, a humidifier and a dryer powered with a regular electric room heater. The components are easily available and can be sourced in all domestic households.
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Specialised varieties of tea like orthodox tea, green tea and white tea can also be processed by this machine. It needs 45 minutes to process 2 kg green tea leaf at an expense of Rs 50 for the electric room heater.
The machine also has a space for handrolling the dried tea leaves, packing them into plastic bags and sealing them off, all within a space of 3 ft x 8 ft.
Kalyan Debbarma, owner of Shantikali Tea Estate in West Tripura district, told this publication that the low-cost device would be helpful for small tea growers, who can’t afford expensive tea processing machines. “I devised a drying and processing machine for Rs 35,000. We are small tea growers and can’t often buy expensive devices for our industry. This new low-cost machine will be very helpful for us,” Debbarma said.
Veteran small tea grower Gopal Chakraborty, who has been cultivating tea for over three decades, started making indigenously-designed tea processing machines around five years ago. He feels Barman’s model is a perfect fit for struggling small tea growers.
Tea industry in Tripura is over 100 years old. The cultivation started at Hiracherra 103 years in 1916. However, the industry hasn’t really picked up in the national arena so far. Initiatives to boost tea sector started a couple of years ago by designing a logo and branding Tripura tea.
Tripura currently has 58 operational tea gardens, out of which 42 are individually owned, three are run by the Tripura Tea Development Corporation (TTDC) and 13 are operated by cooperative societies. Most of these tea estates used to produce orthodox tea till 2000 but moved on to CTC thereafter. With a bit of prodding from Tea Board and marketing assistance, many of these gardens are now moving to orthodox tea production.
A total of 6,885 hectare land is under tea cultivation in the state. Around 3,000 small tea growers also run their tea gardens with government support in this bulk. Most of these small tea growers suffer from fund crisis. So, installing an expensive processing machine is often an arduous job. Hence, Barman’s innovative machine offers them a unique solution.
According to the estimates, Tripura registered 3.58 crore kg green tea leaf production annually till last year and 88 lakh kg “made tea” processed in different plants.
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