SILIGURI: Indian tea Board’s ambitious launch of ‘Plant Protection Code’ to ensure better and healthy production practice has come as a thorn in the throat for small tea growers ( STG) those who contribute 30% of the national yield. The STG’s, while appreciating the code, asking ITB to delay its implementation.

In order to implement the code pan country basis, ITB has issued a directive to all factories stating not to buy green leaf from any garden not complying with PPC effective from 1st September. Usage of any Plant Protection Formula ( PPF), used to protect plants from paste attacks or to facilitate growth in yield enhance growth, that is not included in a specified list by any garden may be treated as its non compliance to PPC.
According to ITB, PPC has been developed by the Board as a best practice guide to tea production. This is to set standards jointly agreed by key stakeholders, supplementing existing regulations, such as the Food Safety and Standards Act of India 2006 and the list of products permitted for use in the tea sector by the Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee. The PPC deals with the safe usage of crop protection formulations and that of methodologies to be followed to reduce pesticide residues in tea.

“We appreciate PPC. But we cannot accept it right now. We must accept reality. STGs could not be made prepared yet to adopt it immediately. Strict implementation of that at this moment may create multi dimensional chaos,” said Mr. B G Chakrobhorty, President Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Association (CISTA).

“There were meetings of stakeholders on PPC. But STGs were not called. We did not have any training on how to shift to entirely PPC compliant systems and PPFs from usual practice. We must get trained on these otherwise the code may not yield expected result,” he added.

At the ground level now, not even 10% of 20 lakh STGs can ensure PPC compliance. Thus, most of them cannot sell their output from 1st September that can put over 18 lakh workers of these under crisis- accepted tea entrepreneurs.

On the other side, “With high dependency on STGs we cannot run without their produce. ITB may think of implementing it in phase manner,” said owners of many factories.

“Naturally implementation of this in phase manner can benefit all while doing good for the overall industry,” said Mr. Chakroborty.

However, “These are teething problems and we expect these to be over by couple of days,” commented ITB officials.