The Tea Board will help Self-Help Groups and Tea Growers Societies take up cultivation of organic tea, said the Executive Director, Tea Board. R.D. Nazeem at Coonoor on Monday.

Inaugurating a workshop on organic tea organised by the United Planters Association of Southern India (UPASI) and Tea Board under the aegis of the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Programme, he said that help in various forms would be extended to the SHGs and societies. Organic certification would be obtained for them through accredited agencies. Their cultivation methods would be monitored for three years. The Tea Board would facilitate signing of MoUs with manufacturers of organic tea.

Stating that eight workshops would be conducted in various parts of South India to promote cultivation of organic tea among the farmers, Mr. Nazeem said that the Tea Board had already helped bring about 100 hectares belonging to estates and small growers under organic tea in Munnar. Twenty acres belonging to small growers in the Nilgiris would be converted to organic gardens.

Pointing out that only three per cent was under organic tea in South India, he said that the demand worldwide was huge and was growing rapidly. It commanded a premium of 20 per cent over ordinary tea.

The Advisor, UPASI Tea Research Foundation, Muralidharan, lamented that dependence on chemicals was increasing in tea gardens. It was leading to degradation of the soil.

The Secretary General, UPASI, Ullas Menon, said that the aim of the programme was to bring about an organic revolution.

The President, Nilgiris Small Tea Growers Association, T. Rangaiah, also spoke. The Director, UPASI-TRF, Mohan Kumar, welcomed the gathering. Scientist ,UPASI-TRF, Radhakrishnan proposed a vote of thanks.

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