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Case Studies Of Tea Plantation In Wayanad Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 2163 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Over the past few decades, tea has grown to become one of the most important commodities of India. Tea has become a major commodity in India and is ranked second largest exporter of tea in the world and offers a variety of products from original orthodox to CTC and green tea.

Tea is one of the major exporting crops in Kerala. In 2007, the production of tea was 70.287 million kg which accounted for 5.6% of total production in India. The tea is produced in Kerala mainly in Idduki and Wayanad district. The contribution of Wayanad district in tea production in 2007 was 18.8% of total tea production in Kerala while Idduki’s contribution was 73.3%. After Idduki, Wayanad is the major producer of tea in Kerala. The area under tea production in Kerala constituted about 37137 hectares in 2007 which accounted for 6.4% of total areas under tea growing area in India. Out of this 14.7 production were done in Wayanad district and 74.5% in Idduki district. In the year 2010, the tea production fell by 1.3% over the last year to 966.4 million kg.

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The tea plantation in Wayanad is done on a very small scale. Most of the organic farming is for coffee. For tea no organic farming is done in Wayanad but good agricultural practices are used which employs limited use of chemicals and pesticides. There are some small cooperatives in Wayanad district where such practices are being adopted. But the production has not been good in last few years.

Most of the tea plantations areas are under the ownership of large tea estates like Priyadershi Tea Estate and Arrepatta Meppadi Tea Estate. Tea is a high labor intensive and land intensive plantation crop and requires huge investment. Majority of the farmers are small tea growers and have to depend on large plantations to sell their leaves plucked. Due to fall in prices in last few years, the plantations are under the verge of being lockout. Also the weather condition has not been favoring the tea production.

Priyadershi Tea, a government-run estate in Wayanad has been able to increase its production by introducing noon meal for its workers. Under its noon meal scheme it has been feeding mouths of 316 tribal workers, majority being women. The estate was shutdown in 2005 but after being revived in 2007, it has shown improvements in production.

Case Study of Organic Farming in Idduki District

A local NGO at Idduki district named Peermade Development Society (PDS) which has promoted organic farming in the district has not only confined its contribution at surface level but has provided support in research and technology also. This organization has also provided its aid in research oriented experiments in field of vermiculture and vermicompost. It has set up a modern tea factory.

When they introduced organic farming in Idduki district their main objective was to link farmers with markets. The main beneficiaries from this project were small-scale tea producers and their communities.

The farming products require timely processing else they lose their worth. Similarly, fresh tea leaves are perishable and must be processed immediately after harvest else they become useless. The market for tea was controlled by big plantations in Idduki area. So, in order to help small-scale farmers with the PDS established consortium that runs its own tea factory and produce organic tea for European markets.

The consortium established in November 2003, was funded by loan and donors and under the umbrella there are nearly 1200 members but has the ability to serve more than 10,000 farmers. An important step of the process of linking organic farming to market was to provide international standard quality and get organic certifications for farmers. The factory spends around Rs 85,000 a year just on quality control. There are six inspectors in the local area who advise farmers on various issues. The responsibilities of the inspectors include:


Standards required for organic farming

Organic and biodynamic farming practices

Different aspects of tea cultivation

Use of botanical pesticides and bio control agents

Pest and disease surveillance

Application of organic manure and vermicompost

Good harvesting and post harvesting practices

The factory only purchases from certified organic farmers and guarantees them 30-70% above the open market rates. This ensures regular supply of quality green leaves from farmers which are then sold as finished tea through Fair Trade Channels.

This practice has reduced environmental impact on natural resource base and improved the earning for farmers also. The farmers get assured prices irrespective of the season. Also part of profit is used for the improvement of socio-economic condition of community members. These activities include providing education to children, creating public utilities, providing services and installing computers for use in education and community welfare.

The factors which accounted for success of Organic farming are:

Growth of organic markets: Organic market is growing in India which provides opportunities for marketing.

Visible effect of farm levels: The farmers were educated about the ill effects of chemicals and reduction in the cost of inputs. The higher quality and low input cost tempted farmers to adopt organic farming.

Education: The literacy rate among the target group was high. It made easier for dissemination of information. The farmers were ready to adopt the new methodology.

Price of PDS Tea: The price of PDS Tea is not very expensive as compared to other teas available in the market. So, market accepted the tea without any hesitation.

Village organizations: There were village level institutions already in the place which made the initial work of PDS easier.

PDS Experience: PDS had earlier experience in organic farming and helped the small farmers in getting organic certifications which made the organic farming popular among the farmers in the Idduki area.

Even though the organic factory initiative started by PDS has been a successful initiative, it faces some issues of its own:

Competition from private factories: The private factories may raise the prices they offer to farmers and thus force them to sell the fresh leaves to them and deprive organic factory of supplies.

Conversion Cost: It takes 3 years for farmers to convert their land and become an organic certified farmer. During the transition period, the yield is very low which might stop them from adopting organic methods of farming. Or famers could find alternative sources of income in order not to lose on income due to transition of land.

Cost of monitoring and Technical Support: Continuous monitoring and technical support is required for maintain the quality of the product.

Distance to Factory: The harvested leaves have to be at factory within an hour for best processing results, so the radius of the farm area can be one hour drive only.

High Fixed Cost: The numbers of overheads are high and include interest, fuel, power and certification. Due to this high cost the farmers are not able to get the worth they deserve. Fuel costs can be reduced by 20% if solar power is used.

Difficulties to find officials for the consortium: Not many farmers want to take responsibilities within consortium as these positions are not paid and require extra time.

Control Costs: The internal and external control system requires extra staff to check the practices used in order to provide quality products. This increase the control costs.

Lack of Brand Characteristics: The Kerala tea is not known for any specific characteristics and cannot compete with those of Assam and Darjeeling tea. Kerala tea is most suitable for normal tea bag production.

There are many constraining factor associated with shifting to organic farming. They are:

Market Access: The international market is very competitive and access can be achieved only through trade fairs. Large Organic producers can push out small consortium of PDS. Small factories might lose on providing supplies to large supermarket chains.

Awareness: Most of the farmers are more concentrated on growing good crops and protecting it from pests. So, they have not much knowledge about processing and marketing issues and accept whatever prices they are offered.

Certification: The certification for international market is very expensive. The Indian certification system does not satisfy the needs of the national market at an affordable price.

Investment: To start a project like PDS Organic factory, huge amount of money is required. Even a well known NGO like PDS had difficulties in generating loans for such big project. Donors provide support to well known NGOs; smaller NGOs have to build reputation to attract big donors to invest in their projects.

Setting up a factory: The bureaucratic process of setting up a factory in India is a very long process unless you have the contacts of right person.

Replicating the project elsewhere: Not every NGOs has the willingness to replicate their project or even scale it up. They are more interested in ecological or social issues. And the NGOs who are willing to engage themselves in the business lack funds.

The case study gives us an idea of challenges and constraints faced by small cooperatives in setting up a small organic factory. The same can be said about the regions in Wayanad.

Proposing Natural Farming in Wayanad

Natural Farming also called Zero Budget Farming uses natural mechanism to lighten workload while enhancing soil biological activities, making soil rich and creating more diverse and stable ecological system. This method is a new concept and taking roots in Kerala. Subhas Palekar, an agricultural scientist form Maharashtra. A conducive environment for growth of earthworms in the soil is developed for successful practice of this method. The surface earthworms used in organic farming are different from those used in Natural Farming. Tea is a crop which is produced in Wayanad using good agriculture practices which uses limited use of fertilizers and pesticides.

The lands in Wayanad are more suitable to grow tea but low earnings had made farmers to switch to coffee, which is a big earner of revenue. If natural farming is properly exploited then it can earn farmers a high yield at low cost.

The main problem with tea growers is that most of the farmers are small farmers with low land holdings. Big tea estate can initiate the process by educating farmers about the benefits of natural farming. Unlike Organic farming which involves huge control cost, natural farming does not involve control cost but is as labor intensive. Priyadershi tea estate, owned by government is one of the largest tea estate in Wayanad district can help farmers in this regard. Unlike organic farming there is no need of certification in this method. Big Tea estate can easily market the products as they are well known. The farmers can get the same price but at low cost of inputs.

Some of the farmers have adopted zero budget farming and had made huge profits by planting crops like rice, coconut. They seem to be happy with the results of such farming methodologies.

There is also need of trade unions in the area, who could study each and every aspect of industry such as productivity, wage profit, administration, etc and be aware of impact of external trade policies to support such kind of activity. The quality of tea produced has gone down in past few years which need to be handled with proper administration and support from government in order to make it successful. The cooperatives are formed then they must be given full autonomy in running their affairs making it free from bureaucratic control of state.

The biggest issue in any farming method is of funds. Banks should provide loans at nominal rate of interest and make the loan availability hassle free.

Proper storage facilities should be in place so that farmers can keep their plucked leaves there without any worry for their produce getting rot. Most of the farmers are small land holders and they cannot afford warehouses.

The natural farming is the need of the time for farmers with small land holdings, if the methodologies are properly implemented then it can be made successful not only in tea plantation but also in other crops.








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