The Tea Board of India has announced a new set of guidelines for Indian tea growers under a voluntary code, with an aim to improve the quality of tea produced in the country.
Collectively called the Plant Protection Code, guidelines have aim to ensure the safe usage of plant protection products, adherence to safety standards, and minimising the usage of pesticides in tea growing.
According to the Tea Board, the code is based on a combination of Indian realities and globally-accepted sustainability principles, and covers every aspect of tea production and manufacturing.
The code was formulated as a result of the increase in the demand for sustainable products which, at the same time, would not have an adverse impact on the environment, the government-backed agency said.
“Tea Board is of the view that effective adoption of the food safety standards will enable the tea industry in safeguarding the plantation environment, welfare of the workers, small farmers and long term security of supply,” the code document said.
“It is envisioned that the compliance with the code would not only improve competitiveness among the tea farms, but would also facilitate them in achieving compliance with national regulations and international sustainability standard,”
The code also covers integrated pest management (IPM)—a system that utilises suitable methods and techniques in a compatible manner to maintain pest incidence at levels below those causing economic loss of crop.
Under the code, the body has classified different pesticides, insecticides, acaricides, fungicides and herbicides with approved amount of usage in the plantations.
Presently, there are 33 pesticides permitted by Central Insecticides Board (CIB) for use on tea in India, based on extensive screening.
As per the document, the Tea Research Institute continues to screen new potential chemicals both for efficacy and residues, adding that the data being generated is submitted to CIB and Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) for label claim in tea and fixation of limits with the support from Tea Board.
“As a comprehensive document the Plant Protection Code deals with the safe usage of crop protection products and that of the methodologies that must be followed to reduce pesticide residues in tea,” the code said.
“The code encourages tea growers to critically review their use of plant protection formulations [PPF], reduce their use where possible and over time, apply them in the safest way possible.”