Based on the study findings, TRA plans to develop strategies to tackle issues relating to carbon offsetting
The Tea Research Association (TRA) has initiated a collaborative study to assess the carbon footprint of the industry, an official said.
Speaking at the 59th annual general meeting of TRA, its chairperson Nayantara Palchoudhuri said a committee has been formed by the Tea Board of India to learn the outcomes of the study, and discuss and formulate policies on achieving net zero goals for the industry.
She also urged the FSSAI or the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to devise a rating system for tea in the country.
"As the world is fast adapting to live with the reality of climate change, the issue of carbon offsetting has become important for all countries and industries. For a low-carbon industry like tea, there is much scope for earning carbon credits," she said.
"However, there was no systematic study on the subject. TRA has taken up a collaborative study on life cycle assessment of tea plantations and the factories to scientifically find out the carbon footprint of the industry," she said at the programme on Saturday night.
Once the study is done by the end of next year, TRA can plan future strategies to tackle issues relating to carbon offsetting, she said.
"We proposed to the Tea Board of India to form a committee to discuss and formulate policies on achieving the net zero goal for the tea industry. Tea Board immediately accepted the proposal and formed the panel in July by drawing people from all segments of the industry," Palchoudhuri claimed.
The Tea Board could not be reached immediately for comment.
Joydeep Phukan, the convenor of the net zero committee, told PTI, "It has been formed to review the carbon footprint of the industry and align it with India's goal by employing various climate-friendly initiatives."
TRA director A Babu said a new clone, which is climate resilient and good in quality, will be released in 2024.
He said a rapid test kit to detect harmful pesticides in green leaves would be released in November.
Palchoudhuri said compliance with pesticide norms has been a big challenge for certain segments of the Indian tea industry.
"I would like to urge the FSSAI to introduce a system by which tea can be rated according to its compliance standards. This will go a long way in lifting the quality standards of Indian tea," she said.
Asked about the proposal, FSSAI advisor (quality assurance) Satyen K Panda, said, "Such a mechanism can be put in place on a quality basis but it cannot be done on food safety parameters. At present, we are not able to consider such a proposal but we are getting representation from across the sector."
He also said FSSAI conducted a tea surveillance survey in 2022-23 to ascertain whether food safety norms were complied with.
In 2022-23, the country's tea production was 1,375 million kg as against 1,344 million kg in 2021-22, with an average price of Rs 201 per kg, Palchoudhuri said.
Exports were up at 231 million kg in 2022 calendar year, as compared to 200.79 million kg in 2021, she said.