JORHAT, Sept 22 - The Tea Research Association (TRA) chairman PK Bezboruah has urged scientists and employees of the TRA to pull up their socks in order to tide over the unprecedented crisis the organisation was facing in recent times.
TRA has the world�s oldest tea research centre � Tocklai Tea Research Institute � as its research headquarters.
Bezboruah, who is a tea planter himself and also the chairman of the Tea Board, was speaking at the 53rd annual general meeting of the TRA held at Tocklai at Cinnamara outskirts here.
The TRA AGM was held at Tocklai after a gap of 29 years at Tocklai as per the suggestion of Jorhat MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa. The TRA has its headquarters in Kolkata.
Bezboruah in his address, gave a ringside view of the TRA and elaborated on the problems faced by it and sought cooperation and sacrifices of the rank and file to overcome them.
Speaking about the strengths of TRA, he said the association has a glorious research history, a good reputation in the international research community, strong capabilities �of our research personnel along with satisfactory equipment bank and scientific infrastructure�.
On weaknesses, Bezboruah pointed out lack of funds, unclear objectives, poor research direction, lack of cohesion and cooperation among the scientists, unhealthy internal politics in the organisation and the alleged chauvinistic environment at Tocklai.
Urging all to contribute to tide over the crisis, especially due to the Central Government holding back its share of funds to TRA, he pointed out the opportunities which could lead forward the TRA.
�I am hoping that our scientists and employees will realise the gravity of our predicament and rise to the occasion. If we all persist in believing this is business as usual, we probably will not survive. In this kind of environment everyone will have to be ready to make sacrifices,� Bezboruah said.
He said parallel research efforts in well-funded agricultural universities, unauthorised use of TRA findings by research institutes in other countries, pilferage of TRA genetic material, moonlighting by the scientists who then commercialise findings generated at TRA outside, in collaboration with external commercial partners were among the threats posed to the TRA.
�We are committed to achieve self sufficiency at TRA from industry support, by augmentation of self generation to an annual level of about Rs 10 crore by 2020,� Bezboruah said.
He said as instructed by the Government, Tocklai will be downsized to a level of 100 scientists and 50 supporting staff employees by 2020.
The chairman spoke about the need to rationalise and regularise land holdings of Tocklai by 2018, including relinquishment of the loss-making tea garden that the institute is managing.
Tocklai director, Dr AK Barooah, in his address, presented the highlights of research and development activities of the institute in recent times. He said the institute will be working hard to convert the adverse situation it was facing into advantages and overcome the odds.
Sustainability, quality, production, irrigation system, pest management are key areas Tockai was working apart from and being a partner in global research project in climate change.
Barooah said as part of the out-of-the -box ways to overcome the crisis, Tocklai was planning to develop the institute�s sprawling 40 acres pristine campus with bungalows into a tea tourism hotspot.
Assam Assembly Speaker, Hitendra Nath Goswami, who was the chief guest, in his speech, said he would allot Rs five crore from government funds to promote tourism. He said the Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was aware of the crisis faced by Tocklai and has apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the new Union Commerce minister Suresh Prabhu and was hopeful of a positive announcement.
Tasa, in his address expressed his concerns about the problems faced by Tocklai and said he along with Sonowal has been taking up the matter with the Centre several times including Modi and was hopeful of government intervention.