Uttarakhand plans tea tourism boost to curb migration
To check forced migration from the hills of Uttarakhand, the state government plans to boost tea tourism in the region by expanding the area under tea cultivation, for which a legal framework is being readied to ensure a smooth inflow of investmentUpdated: Feb 05, 2018 21:47 IST
To check forced migration from the hills of Uttarakhand, the state government plans to boost tea tourism in the region by expanding the area under tea cultivation, for which a legal framework is being readied to ensure a smooth inflow of investment.
“We plan to bring a sizeable chunk of land under tea cultivation by inviting private investments, for which a legal framework is being put in place,” said horticulture additional secretary Meharban Singh Bisht.
“The step aims to boost tea production, which will give a fillip to tea tourism, helping to enhance farmers’ income and check forced migration from the hills,” he said.
“The tea sector is being given a boost because the orthodox variety of tea endemic to the hill state is in great demand abroad.”
Bisht said the locally grown Orthodox variety of tea, which “has a distinct taste and aroma is also good for health owing to its anti oxidant properties, which helps cleanse” the body of toxins.
“If the production of this export variety of tea gets a boost, it will also fetch tea cultivators a huge foreign exchange,” Bisht said.
“Boost in tea cultivation will also give a boost to tea tourism in the state (like in Darjeeling and Assam) as tea grown on the rolling hills will add to the region’s scenic charm.”
Then, the agro-climatic condition in the state is also suitable to the Orthodox variety of tea.
“The state’s undulating topography, which doesn’t retain water, is yet another local condition favourable for tea cultivation,” he said adding, owing to “these favourable conditions” the British had first introduced the cultivation of the Orthodox variety of tea in the central Himalayan region (Uttarakhand).
“During that period, some 10, 000 hectares area in the state was under tea cultivation,” Bisht said. However, in due course, the area under tea cultivation has reduced to 1140 hectares.
“Now a plan is afoot to boost the tea cultivation in the state. “Under that scheme, we plan to bring an additional 1000 hectares area under tea cultivation, for which a plan is underway to attract investments,” Bisht said.
“In that connection, a legal framework is being planned so that local farmers could lease out their land to investors for tea cultivation and investments also start flowing in.”
The government had already done soil testing, in which an additional 6,000 hectares area in the state was found suitable for tea cultivation.
At present the state has only five tea estates, four of which are state owned and the remaining one is a privately-run tea estate.
While the privately run tea estate lies unproductive, the remaining four tea estates, each equipped with a tea processing unit, produce 70,000 kg of tea besides offering employment to 4,000 people.
“So far, we have got an in principle approval from twin donor agencies for a loan assistance of ₹98 crore to give a fillip to tea cultivation in the state,” Bisht said referring to World Bank and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
“More tea estates coming up in the landslide prone hill region would also mean an increase in green cover and slope stability,” he said. “Besides, the green cover will also lead to environmental enrichment in the mountain region.”