The world’s oldest and India’s most prestigious tea research center will receive essential funding to continue its work.
The Tea Research Association’s center in Tocklai, Assam has been facing a funding crunch for months requiring severe cutbacks in programs. The center, founded in 1911 as the Tocklai Experimental Station, draws funds from both the public and private sector. Funds from the government are being doled out in small measure, precipitating the crisis.
Last week Chandra Mohan Patowary, Assam’s industry minister, proposed bringing the Tea Research Association (TRA) into either the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) or the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to insure continued financial support.
Speaking at the TRA’s 52nd annual general meeting on Friday, Patowary said that Union commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman had assured him funds will be made available to continue operations, according to the Times of India. Failure to fund the center will eventually affect the tea industry, in turn affecting its capacity to compete with other tea-growing countries, he said.
Tea research students and faculty at Tocklai Tea Research Institute
TRA’s funding crisis was the dominant concern at the meeting. The association is going through an ‘unprecedented financial crisis’ due to non-release of approved funds by the Centre.
Prabhat Bezboruah, who will soon take over as TRA chairman, said Rs 37 crore is due from the Centre, while TRA has to pay Rs 10 crore. Industry contributions were increased because of non-payment of the government’s share.
He said TRA is establishing different verticals, including outsourced research from overseas countries to generate revenue but these initiatives will take time.
Source: Times of India