Tea Board India Issues Plant Protection Code to Safeguard Tea Plantations

The Tea Board India has released the latest version of the Plant Protection Code, i.e. February 2024, Ver. 16.0. This code outlines policies for the judicious use of Plant Protection Formulations (PPFs) in tea plantations across the country. Recognizing the prevalence of pests, diseases, and weeds in tea-growing regions, the code aims to mitigate crop losses and ensure the sustainability of tea production.

The unique climatic conditions in India’s tea-growing regions create an environment conducive to the proliferation of pests, diseases, and weeds. However, despite widespread usage of PPFs, the tea industry continues to suffer crop losses ranging from 15-30%.

In response to these challenges, the Plant Protection Code advocates for the adoption of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, emphasizing non-chemical control methods wherever possible. By promoting the widespread adoption of IPM approaches from the outset of the growing season, the code seeks to enhance food safety and minimize chemical usage.

Under the new policy, PPFs are recommended only as a component of IPM strategies. The code urges tea growers to avoid blanket pesticide sprays and instead implement effective pest monitoring systems. By monitoring pests throughout the season and resorting to targeted spot sprays when necessary, the code aims to reduce chemical inputs while maintaining crop protection.

The code also addresses industry constraints in the choice of chemicals by facilitating the screening of new potential chemicals for efficacy and safety. Tea Research Institutes collaborate with regulatory bodies such as the Central Insecticides Board and the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) to ensure label claims and establish Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for pesticides used in tea cultivation.

Emphasizing the safe usage of crop protection products, the Plant Protection Code encourages tea growers to critically evaluate their PPF usage and gradually reduce reliance on chemicals. By adhering to these guidelines, the tea industry aims to minimize pesticide residues and promote sustainable tea production practices across India.