The Plant Protection Code (PPC) was expected to be implemented in September 2014, but was deferred as small farmers needed some more time. The tea industry had been facing some issues particularly from conscious consumers who demanded to have safer, healthier and more environmentally friendly tea. Greenpeace had also alleged that Indian teas have a higher than permissible level of pesticide residue.
Now the tea board has announced that the PPC has become effective from January 1, 2015. The Tea Board has made some modifications to the recently implemented PPC. These changes are applicable to the small tea growers, which account for 30% of total tea output. From henceforth, small tea growers will have to give a declaration that their tea output conforms to the PPC. The Tea Board is likely to continue the ongoing awareness campaign to educate tea growers about the Plan Protection Formulations (PPF).
Based on extensive screening, the Central Insecticides Board (CIB) has listed 33 pesticides that can be used in tea production in India. The Tea Board has also outlined the chemicals that can be used in PPF for tea plantations and these cover insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and bio pesticides. In order to check contamination, chemicals will be restricted for use in tea estates, water bodies near tea estates, wildlife habitats and human dwellings. Tea plantations in south India have been allowed a few concessions in the use of chemicals. The Tea Research Institutes that have been involved in making the PPF have based their recommendations on compliance with FSSAI standards.
The PPC is a document that will encourage tea growers to use safer methods of tea protection and to review their use of chemicals in their PPF. The PPC is based on the international standards set by Codex Alimentarius. Through the PPC the Tea Board hopes to achieve sustainability through Good Agricultural Practices. They also aim to reduce the use of some chemical pesticides for pest control. To put it simply the threefold methods that tea planters need to use to reduce pesticide residues in tea are
- review their use of PPFs,
- reduce the use of PPFs as much as possible
- apply the PPFs in the safest way possible
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is another striking feature of the PPC, which means using suitable methods and techniques in such a way as to minimize the pest incidence so as to prevent economic loss of crops. Tea Board has however, mentioned that despite the use of PPFs, the tea industry loses nearly 30 per cent of its crop due to pests, weeds and diseases.