India's organic farming efforts will see a sea change in the tea sector following the launch of the project to develop organic black tea with funding from the Amsterdam-based Common Fund for Commodities, a UN body.
According to Tea Board officials, the project is set to take off in the current year itself. Under the project, the Tea Board will receive from CFC $9,00,000 as loan repayable over seven years and another $6,00,000 as grant.
The agreement between the Union Government, which will be the guarantor to the loan, the Tea Board and CFC will be signed in this year.
Three model firms, each of 100 acres, will be set up in Assam (near Tinsukia in Upper Assam), West Bengal (Darjeeling district) and Tamil Nadu (tea growing areas in Annamalai hill range of the Western Ghat).
The technical support will be provided by Tocklai tea research station in Assam, Tea Board's research centre in Darjeeling and Upasi Tea Research Foundation in Tamil Nadu.
The thrust of the CFC-funded organic black tea project will be to standardise the organic tea growing practices through proper technical support, assess the market and determine the demand to establish its commercial viability and to have a proper certification procedure.