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Tea Board partners with IIT on technology

The Tea Board of India has collaborated with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur to develop technology that will help the industry cut energy costs and produce better teas.

The prototype of the machines incorporating the new technology is currently under field-trials at one tea estate each in the North and the South. Patents have also been applied for the new technology.

The tie-up comes at a time when the tea industry’s margins are getting squeezed due to high costs and reduced earnings and should aid in fetching better prices for the brew.

This marks the completion of a 11 plan project awarded by the Tea Board to the IIT Kharagpur,” an official connected with the developments, who did not wish to be named, told The Hindu.

The machinery, called ‘circular withering trough’ “has already completed field trials at the Tea Research Centre at Nagrakatta, West Bengal and is now undergoing commercial trials at a tea estate in the Darjeeling foothills of a reputed tea company.”

Tea prices have remained depressed for most of 2015 even as cost of production has increased , creating a distress situation for workers in many tea gardens in West Bengal. The gardens in Assam have seen crop loss but prices rule higher as the teas are better quality than that of West Bengal.

The Indian Tea Association, the apex industry body for North Indian producers, admitted that many gardens were paying daily cash wages which were lower than the Rs.122.5 agreed upon at the last Tripartite Agreement in West Bengal.

About 80 per cent of the costs are fixed, with labour constituting 50 per cent of total production cost, making the industry clamour for means of mechanisation.

An official at the Tea Research Association, an industry funded research body admitted that the existing tea-processing technology was about 60 years old and there was scope for improving it to enhance efficiencies.

14 Dec, 2015
Hindu Chennai

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