Tea Board of India is taking things further with the development of a Plant Protection Code (PPC). The PPC is intended to layout the best practices related to tea production. The developers were interested in lowering the use of pesticides, maximizing sustainability efforts, and producing better quality tea. They also believe that the recommendations will improve the safety and long-term survival of workers and farms.
The tenets of the code were put in place by a team from the Tea Research Institute of the UPASI Tea Research Foundation, the Tea Research Association, industry members and staff from certification agencies. The belief is that following the proposed code will make tea farms more competitive both locally and on the world stage.
Rajiv Lochan of Lochan Tea talked to World Tea News about some of the history that led up to these new policies. He referenced the unchecked usage of chemicals like DDT and sulphur dust through the 1950s. By the 1980s, he said, concerns had reached a point that the FAO Intergovernmental Group (IGG) on Tea helped to establish new limits on the use of these pesticides. India’s Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 and customs regulations established further guidelines, inspiring current efforts to look at non-chemical pest control and integrated pest management systems.
“Companies like ours, government-recognized export houses, who are basically sourcing agents, were starting to find it more difficult to arrange teas of required descriptions and standards,” said Lochan. “Russia, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore to name a few, are so strict with entry exit laws today that it is almost impossible to export teas to these countries and many consignments are being rejected. Once a consignment is rejected it becomes almost impossible to bring it back…This leads to a serious loss of money, prestige and trust.”
He believes that it could take 10 to 25 years to correct the state of the soil and to rid the farms of these damaging chemicals. He acknowledges that the code puts new pressures on growers and producers, but that they are important for long term survival of the industry. He believes that the small growers have flown under the radar of monitors for a long time and they will likely have the most changes to make.
The Plant Protection Code can be read here.