AbstractTea industry in general and that in India in particular, seem to be star-crossed during the current fiscal year
what with indifferent weather conditions, low yields and depressed prices. As if this is not enough, the
publication of a note by an NGO castigating Tea in India as containing banned pesticides and the others
over the prescribed Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) confounded the scenario further to the detriment of
the industry; the report was based on 'packet teas' collected from the market shelves. Tea Board of India
responded, nay, reacted, rather severely by drastically curtailing the list of pesticides approved for use on tea
with stringent MRLs (prescribed by FSSAI) far lower than that of European Union, Japan and even Codex.
It is common knowledge that tropical crops are invaded by a wide array of pests and diseases unlike
the temperate ones, to combat which a wider arsenal of pesticides is essential so that they are rotated to
avoid accumulation of residue(s) in the crop as also, build up of resistance. In certain instances, as in the
case of the leaf disease 'blister blight' (Exobasidium vexans) that invades tea in epidemic proportions during
a greater part of the year in south India, necessitating spraying at regular intervals as short as five days, the
approved list offers a single fimgicide, hexaconazole! Similar is the situation with regard to 'gray blight'
(Pestalotiopsis theae) being left with the choice of controlling by a lone combination spray of 'carbendazim
12%' and 'mancozeb 63%' WE Such stringent imposition defies all logic ignoring the welfare of producers
in a large agricultural industry.
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