Stress on climate change impact on tea gardens
The Centre has submitted before the Intergovernmental Group on Tea on the need to take up comprehensive studies to find out the impact of climate change on tea plantations.
India, which headed the working group on climate change, submitted the report prepared by a scientist from Tocklai at an intersessional meeting of the Intergovernmental Group on Tea on September 17 to 18 in Washington DC.
The Intergovernmental Group on Tea under Food and Agriculture Organisation represents a forum for intergovernmental consultation and exchange on trends in production, consumption, trade and prices of tea, including regular appraisal of the global market situation and short-term outlook.
The Centre in the report said the idea was to develop decision-support framework or toolkit for contingency crop planning for efficient management of tea plantations and make them climate resilient.
To develop this framework crop details, soil information, waterbodies and other crops nearby agronomic information (plant growth, physiological parameters), ground weather observation, location specific forecast data (even hourly) and historical data (appropriate short/long) would have to taken into consideration.
“Such data and details will be from surface as well as satellite. Once the prototype framework/toolkit is available, crop planning based on weather advisories can be made specific to a region. This approach will make it easy to adapt to the changing weather conditions and also will be able to cope with the extreme events, because this can be used as an early warning system,” the report that the Centre submitted said.
The Centre said the outcome of global studies on climate change was at continental levels, while the details at regional and sub-regional levels, which strongly influence the total economics, were inadequate.
“Until recently, we are not very clear about the contribution of climate change on tea production and quality in different regions. Yield depends on various other parameters like soil, water, nutrient and pest/disease and not just climate/weather. Using appropriate analysis, it has to be deciphered that how much contribution climate change has on production and quality, through variations in these parameters using historical data,” it said.
The report also said there should be analysis of database of local weather, soil, disease/pest incidence and tea yield in tea growing regions of Assam.
Another tool is the weather forecast, which allows taking at least take immediate management decisions at farm level.
“We intend to use appropriate observation and prediction system, which takes data from our databases directly and makes predictions at high resolution. We intend to use Nasa’s Terrestrial Observation and Prediction System (TOPS) for the purpose,” the report said.
Concerned over the challenges to the tea industry on account of climate change, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce in its report on tea said there was an urgent need to develop a strategy aimed at improvement and sustenance of tea productivity as well as its quality and direct research to find solutions to problems like prolonged drought arising because of climate change.
The committee recommended to the commerce department to take steps in this direction and collaborate with International Tea Research Institutes and ICAR on the matter.
The commerce department informed the committee of a research proposal on climate change on tea plantation under the Twelfth Plan.
The committee said in its report that the government should give more thrust to the development of high yielding planting materials that can withstand the biotic and abiotic stresses under the changing climatic scenario.