Tea Board India is planning to move away from the coal-based tea processing system to tapping solar energy as a source of electricity for drying tea leaves and processing them. Tea Board India Deputy Chairman Arun Kumar Roy said alternative modes of processing are being considered to make tea industry pollution-free and cleaner.
“This is in view of the environment issues…tea industry is a consumer of coal as far as drying of leaves and tea making process is concerned. We are thinking of alternatives by which we can use solar power as electricity to transform from this process as have been demanded today by exporting countries and also by the discerning consumers who would not like to have chemicals in their tea,” Roy said at Run for India Tea initiative at Agartala on Wednesday.
Tripura grows 3.58 crore kg green tea leaf annually. This undergoes drying and processing in 20 factories in different districts which end in 88 lakh kg “made tea” or processed tea.
As per official records of the Tripura Tea Development Corporation (TTDC), the tea industry in the state needs 9,000 metric tones of coal per year for drying all the plucked leaves. Part of the required coal has been replaced by three factories of biomass briquettes, an organic low-cost substitute to coal but most of the coal bulk is still procured through different routes.
TBI Deputy Chairperson Arun Kumar Roy said his organization is in the process of ascertaining ways to set up solar power plants to reduce production cost and improve the quality.
On the Tea Board’s plan for next three years to develop tea from NE states, Roy said heavy stress will be laid on organic tea production.
“We shall provide re-plantation, and rejuvenation plantation benefits for organic and orthodox tea plantations only. These tea varieties have rising export value and consumption across the world. Black tea is largely consumed in India but green tea, orthodox tea and organic tea consumption is rising across the globe. We have to adapt to this changing market, make tea climate resilient and sustainable,” he said.
India jumped from 110 million kg orthodox tea production to 135 million kg last year.
He also said Northeast India will become an export hub as per Government of India’s Look East Policy and tea will get a high priority. The Centre has recently set up tea clusters at Dibrugarh and Jorhat, for which work has already started.
The official also said that tea produced in the region, including those from Tripura, would be auctions via a cloud based system to facilitate easier trading avenues.
“Tea from Tripura has to go all the way to Kolkata or Guwahati for auction. We will place Tripura tea on cloud based auction system. We shall use new generation auction platforms, where tea will be directly auctioned from here. Small tea growers will reap the benefit from such initiatives,” he said.
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