Guwahati: Tea Research Association, the
oldest and largest of its kind in the country, at Tocklai in
Assam has played a pioneering role in tea research leading to
pathbreaking initiatives subsequently adopted by the industry.
The research organisation, which began its existence
as the Tocklai Experimental Station in 1911, concluded its
year-long centenary celebrations on November 22 by holding a
World Tea Science Congress inaugurated by former President APJ
TRA Director Mridul Hazarika said the research station
had launched a decade-long scientific effort to give something
unique to the tea industry and undertaken research in several
non-conventional areas along with conventional research.
The research institute has emerged as one of the major
biotechnology research institutes of tea in the world.
A major centenary highlight of the TRA was launching
of a tea based non-carbonated soft drink promoted as a health
drink along with Plant Growth Promoting Microbes to be made
commercially available to the tea industry.
Hazarika pointed out that the significant results of
tea research by the organisation had led to release of 30
Tocklai Vegetative (TV) clones, 14 biclonal seed stocks and
151 region-specific garden series clones to the tea industry.
Hazarika claimed it was due to the efforts of the TRA
that the industry introduced extended pruning cycle in lieu of
annual prune for higher productivity and better distribution
Optimisation of plant population, new techniques of
bringing up young tea, reducing the gestation period from
planting to full bearing, land planning, drainage and balance
manuring for higher productivity and soil Amendment techniques
have been some of the highlights of tea research initiated by
Research by the TRA also established the necessity
for a light canopy of shade for tea plantations in the plains
of Northeast, Hazarika pointed out.
The TRA has also successfully invented several tea
machinery adopted by tea gardens, like the MacTear Rotorvane,
Borbora Continuous Leaf Conditioner, Continuous Tray Drier,
Continuous Fermenting Machine, Borua Continuous Roller, Tea
Breaker-cum-Stalk Separator, Green Leaf Storage Device,
Continuous Withering Machine Electronic Monitoring and
Control System for Withering.
Another major contribution of the organisation has
been in the field of safer pesticides for effective pest and
weed control, with emphasis on integrated pest management and
generation of data on pesticide residues in tea from
multi-locational supervised field trials.
The TRA has also successfully introduced bioagents -
Trichoderma and Bacillus for control of certain tea diseases
and their formulation for commercial application.