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Tea Board’s Plant Protection Code is inadequate: Greenpeace India

India Blooms News Service | | 03 Sep 2014, 06:20 pm
New Delhi/Kolkata, Sept 3 (IBNS): While acknowledging the initiatives taken by the Tea Board of India to handle the pesticide menace in tea cultivation, Greenpeace India, Wednesday termed the Plant Protection Code (PPC) as inadequate.

The PPC is based on a reductionist approach that removes only certain chemical pesticides and hence it won't be able to move the tea industry out of the pesticides treadmill.

“We need a holistic, ecosystem based approach that gradually phases out chemical pesticides. The first concrete step to this is pilots, which should be done in different agro-ecological zones and adopt an area based approach. This approach has been publicly supported by HUL and Girnar,” said Neha Saigal, Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

A ban on certain kinds of chemical pesticides is going to cause much inconvenience to the Small Tea Growers (STG), as there is no knowledge on ecological alternatives to pest control or support systems in place. It is estimated that Small Tea Growers will account for 50% of the tea production in India by 2020.

Therefore, it is important that a road-map for small tea growers is chalked out along with support systems for the same. Greenpeace India, in the workshop, with the Tea Board and STG, stressed that the road-map should focus on three main areas: institutional capacity, knowledge transfer and marketing support.

"Traditional farming in India is not about chemicals and pesticides. It is less about learning new things and more about unlearning the bad and going back to our roots. This is the approach we have very successfully implemented in ecoteas which is probably  India's smallest Organic tea estate in Nilgiris, a region which  has a tradition of natural farming techniques." Ramesh Babu, Ecoteas and agricultural planner, said.

Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP), under the Government of Andhra Pradesh, which is on the forefront of the Non Pesticide Management (NPM) movement in Andhra Pradesh, released a statement in response to the Greenpeace campaign. In their statement they clearly recommend NPM as a way forward as it has been hugely beneficial to producers by reducing cost of cultivation and improving farmer livelihoods.

“Greenpeace urges the tea companies to support the transition of STGs away from pesticides, towards ecological agriculture. Substitution approaches are not the answer, the need of the hour is a holistic ecological agriculture approach, which is also economically viable for them,” Saigal added further.

Greenpeace India had, earlier in August, 2014 released its report “Trouble Brewing1”, highlighting the presence of pesticide residue in tea. Several tea companies including Hindustan Unilever Limited and Girnar Tea have, since, committed to phasing out of pesticides from tea. Response from other companies is awaited, while Greenpeace is actively engaging with them on the issue.