Himachal developing organic tea garden

Shimla, June 1 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal Tuesday announced that his government was developing an organic tea garden to revive the tea industry in the hill state.

He said the government was also making efforts to popularise and patent Kangra tea, known for its quality flavour, besides motivating the tea producers to expand their tea gardens to get maximum yield.

‘The government is developing an organic tea garden on the campus of CSK Himachal Pradesh Krishi Vishwavidyalaya at Palampur (in Kangra district) to motivate and technically guide the farmers. It will be developed over an area of 150 hectares,’ Dhumal said.

‘Besides rejuvenating the abandoned tea gardens, the government in association with the Tea Board of India will explore tea cultivation possibilities in Chamba and Mandi districts where climatic conditions are conducive for tea cultivation,’ Dhumal told a central government delegation, comprising Additional Secretary of Commerce A.K. Mangotra here.

He said at present the state is producing only 8.5 lakh kg of tea annually which needs to be increased to a minimum of 25 lakh kg in the next few years.

The chief minister said there were more than 1,000 hectares of tea gardens that have been abandoned by the growers in Kangra district due to losses.

‘All these farmlands will be rejuvenated by converting them into organic tea gardens,’ he added.

Mangotra said the central government would be extending expertise services for rejuvenation of the tea industry in the hill state. He said top tea traders would be roped in to market Kangra tea in the international market.

‘Even the renowned foreign companies are keen to invest in Himachal Pradesh,’ he said.

He said a spice park announced by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma during his recent visit to the state would soon be developed at a cost of Rs.27 crore to process ginger, garlic and chilly in Nadaun in Hamirpur district.

To revive the tea industry in Kangra, the central government has also decided to set up the regional office of the Tea Board of India in Palampur.

Horticulture experts here say tea production in Kangra has seen a massive fall in the past 15 years as only small producers with an average holding of around 0.6 acres are engaged in tea plantation.

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