GUWAHATI, Oct 14 � The Tea Research Association (TRA), Tocklai is now engaged in a study on the impact of climate change on the performance of different tea cultivars. The effects of drought, rainfall variability, higher temperature and elevated carbon dioxide concentration are being studied by it, using the latest technology. The TRA is preparing ways for mitigating the negative effects of such climate changes. This was revealed by TRA additional vice chairman Prabhat Bezbaruah in a letter to Union Minister of Commerce and Industries Nirmala Sitharaman.
However, Bezbaruah maintained that research is time-consuming and as such comes with huge costs in terms of salaries of scientists, equipment and input costs. To retain good quality of manpower, TRA has been following the CSIR scale of pay for the last 50 years. It is also unique that funding to TRA is done jointly by the tea industry and the Ministry of Commerce & Industry through the Tea Board. Since the 12th five year plan has not been finalized, the funding to TRA and UPASI TRF has been done at a lower scale thereby creating financial hardship and instability in these research centres.
On many occasions, because of the want of funds, crucial projects could not be undertaken and at times payment of salaries and retirement benefits become a problem, he said and suggested that the tea cess collected from the tea industry at the rate of 50 paise per kg should be used for research and development activities.
He further said that the TRA is involved in studies leading to the reduction in the usage of pesticides, and the effective utilization of non chemical strategies like biological, mechanical and behavioural control of pests. �While these efforts are being made, we feel that there is a greater need for synergy between institutions such as Central Insecticide Board and the FSSAI in approving plant protection products for the industry and setting of maximum residue levels (MRLs),� he said.