Aid is on the way to financially troubled Tocklai Tea Research Institute, India’s premier tea research institution, which is jointly funded by the government and industry through the Tea Research Association (TRA).
“The [government] allocation for the next financial year 2017–18 has been brought back to the previous level of 2015–16, which will be around Rs 16 crores plus,” TRA Secretary Joydeep Phukan told World Tea News.
Last August, the institute defaulted on its statutory payments, had not been able to clear the dues of its retiring scientists, and was defaulting on provident fund payments for its current employees, according to The Hindu.
The institute, based in Jorhat, Assam, carries out research on all aspects of tea cultivation and processing for its 1,076-member tea estates in northeast India.
Rita Teotia, Commerce Secretary, Government of India, spoke at a March 25 seminar organized by TRA at the institute.
“The work you do is not scientific research in isolation, your work translates the real economy impact on the ground for the farmers who are in the tea sector,” she told scientists attending the seminar, according to The Sentinel. “Knowledge transfer to farmers is an uphill task which has become a reality.”
Teotia said she appreciated the role of the small growers who had been playing a pivotal role in contributing at least 25 percent of bought tea leaves. “But there is a perception in India that the output that comes from the small growers is inferior in quality and therefore may not commemorate the prices. This is something we understood and this is something we need to challenge.”
And while a large number of good-quality clones are coming out from TRA, the work done so far by the association is not enough, she said. “It does not understand the requirement of the industry. But we need to see to it that what we are doing sharply focuses as part of our plan. We can use the Tea Board in order to do integrated area-based planning. It is only the way to integrate and start looking farmer by farmer.”