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Tea industry in need of device to detect pesticides in green leaves

By AJIT PATOWARY
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GUWAHATI, Sept 29 - Absence of a device to instantly detect chemicals and pesticides in green tea leaves is posing a serious problem for the tea industry of the State and West Bengal. The industry is feeling the need of a device to instantly detect chemicals and pesticides sprayed on green tea leaves.

It needs mention here that in Assam almost 50 per cent of green tea leaves are grown by small tea growers. As per FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) norms, it is mandatory for each tea factory to test their teas once in every six months in a laboratory accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories, India (NABL).

The Plant Protection Code (PPC) of the Tea Board of India has also made it obligatory for the tea industry to release their produce only by keeping the residue of chemicals and pesticides within permissible limits.

In July this year, the Board introduced the 11th version of the PPC along with a list of Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee approved plant protection formulations (PPF) for use in tea plantations and their maximum residue limits (MRLs) fixed by the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues), Third Amendment Regulations, 2018. These regulations have been made effective from January 3, 2019.

The list contains the type of PPFs � acaricides, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and bio-pesticides � to be used in tea plantations along with MRLs.

When asked, tea planter and adviser to the North Eastern Tea Association (NETA), Bidyananda Barkakoty, told this correspondent that big and small tea growers are not allowed to use any other pesticides and chemicals not included in the list. But, those pesticides and chemicals outside the list, which are not banned ones and can be used for other crops, are available in the market.

�A section of tea growers, due to ignorance, buy these pesticides and spray in their plantations. Tea Board conducts awareness programmes from time to time, but that is not enough. We need a device or a small laboratory, which should be affordable for every factory to install and should be such that it gives results instantly,� he said.

�There are many laboratories to test the finished products (that is made tea), but till now, we have no device or a laboratory to test raw materials (green tea leaves), which will give results instantly. We should know at the factory level whether the green tea leaves purchased is PPC compliant or not,� he added.

Though as of now such a device or technology is not available, nevertheless some start-ups and technical institutes have started showing interest in developing such a device that can even trace whether the grower was using non-approved pesticides. This device will help in deterring growers from using non-approved pesticides, Barkakoty said.

The Tea Board of India has by this time issued QR cards to all tea growers and this has made traceability easy in this respect.

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Tea industry in need of device to detect pesticides in green leaves

GUWAHATI, Sept 29 - Absence of a device to instantly detect chemicals and pesticides in green tea leaves is posing a serious problem for the tea industry of the State and West Bengal. The industry is feeling the need of a device to instantly detect chemicals and pesticides sprayed on green tea leaves.

It needs mention here that in Assam almost 50 per cent of green tea leaves are grown by small tea growers. As per FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) norms, it is mandatory for each tea factory to test their teas once in every six months in a laboratory accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories, India (NABL).

The Plant Protection Code (PPC) of the Tea Board of India has also made it obligatory for the tea industry to release their produce only by keeping the residue of chemicals and pesticides within permissible limits.

In July this year, the Board introduced the 11th version of the PPC along with a list of Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee approved plant protection formulations (PPF) for use in tea plantations and their maximum residue limits (MRLs) fixed by the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues), Third Amendment Regulations, 2018. These regulations have been made effective from January 3, 2019.

The list contains the type of PPFs � acaricides, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and bio-pesticides � to be used in tea plantations along with MRLs.

When asked, tea planter and adviser to the North Eastern Tea Association (NETA), Bidyananda Barkakoty, told this correspondent that big and small tea growers are not allowed to use any other pesticides and chemicals not included in the list. But, those pesticides and chemicals outside the list, which are not banned ones and can be used for other crops, are available in the market.

�A section of tea growers, due to ignorance, buy these pesticides and spray in their plantations. Tea Board conducts awareness programmes from time to time, but that is not enough. We need a device or a small laboratory, which should be affordable for every factory to install and should be such that it gives results instantly,� he said.

�There are many laboratories to test the finished products (that is made tea), but till now, we have no device or a laboratory to test raw materials (green tea leaves), which will give results instantly. We should know at the factory level whether the green tea leaves purchased is PPC compliant or not,� he added.

Though as of now such a device or technology is not available, nevertheless some start-ups and technical institutes have started showing interest in developing such a device that can even trace whether the grower was using non-approved pesticides. This device will help in deterring growers from using non-approved pesticides, Barkakoty said.

The Tea Board of India has by this time issued QR cards to all tea growers and this has made traceability easy in this respect.