Suryya Kumar Chetia
JORHAT, Nov 22 – Inaugurating the three-day World Tea Science Congress at Tocklai Experimental Station (TES) here today, former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam bolstered the tea industry’s plea for recognizing tea as the National Drink even as State’s Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi declared the brew as the State Drink of Assam.
Dr Kalam argued that tea can be regarded as the National Drink of India on the basis of the size of its consumers. “The number of tea consumers in India is larger than any other country,” he said.
Talking about the problems facing the small tea growers, Dr Kalam said that they should form tea cooperatives to fortify their position. Value-added products like medicinal tea, organic tea and flavoured tea can be beneficial to them, he said.
He further suggested that the tea planters should go for the genetically modified varieties of tea plants so as to protect their plantations against pests, without applying chemical pesticides. The amount of money spent on buying pesticides is much more compared to the sums needed for developing plantations of genetically modified plants, he said.
He insisted on multidimensional research in the tea sector, which has enormous potential to occupy the world market with its exotic products.
Talking about the TES, he suggested that it should be rechristened as ‘Tocklai Research Centre’ so that it can be able to create a brand on its own in the field of tea research. He insisted that the tea industry in India should develop a futuristic vision in the coming years.
Addressing the function, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said, “I am competent enough to declare tea as the State Drink of Assam. I shall make relentless efforts to help the brew secure the recognition as the National Drink of India.”
He urged the tea planters and industrialists to pay much attention to research activities in the tea sector and also suggested diversification of crops in the tea estates.
Dr Kalam released a number of souvenirs, a documentary titled ‘Young at 100’ directed by Charukamal Hazarika, a tea table book titled, “Tocklai and Tea” and a tea soft drink at the function.
D P Maheswari, Chairman, Tea Research Association (TRA), in his speech requested both Dr Kalam and the Chief Minister to extend their support to elevate tea to the status as the National Drink of the country.
Earlier, TES Director Dr Mridul Hazarika welcomed the guests and delegates of the Congress. MGK Bhanu, Chairman, Tea Board, AN Singh, Vice-Chairman, TRA and J Phukan, Secretary, TRA were also present at the function.
The exhibition held on the occasion, was inaugurated by MGK Bhanu.