ISLAMABAD: National Tea and High Value Crop Research Institution (NTHRI) Shinkiari has identified over 64,000 acres of land for tea cultivation in order to fulfill the domestic requirements of the commodity as well as export.
The NTHRI has established a tea nursery over an 35.5 acres and had developed 8 tea varieties which would help in saving the billion of Dollors being spent on the import of tea to tackle with the domestic requirements, said Director NTHRI Dr Hamid.
He said that as many as eight varieties of tea plants have been developed and demonstrated in different ecologies. These varieties have shown tremendous results and was fit for cultivation at large scale for starting the tea production on commercial basis, he added. He further informed that a vast areas of districts of Mansehra, Battagram and Swat including some areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir were identified for the cultivation of tea.
He said that all the arrangements from the front of research and development has been done and there was only need of some practical steps by the federal and provincial governments to commercialize the tea production.
In order to fulfill the demand of skilled labour force and promote the tea cultivation, NTHRI was also providing the technical assistance and trained farmers. The NTHRI has also started in collaboration with academia has started MPhil and PhD degree programmes on tea cultivation and production to attract the private sector to exploit this sector, which was still untapped.
Dr. Hamid said that country could save Rs. 50 billion per annum by starting the tea cultivation on commercial basis and paying a very little attention to ward this project. He asked for establishing a tea development board or authority in the country in order to start the tea growing on commercial
basis. The tea cultivation on commercial basis would bring barren and sami-barren land under crop and it would also helpful for establishing the orchards of other high value crops like fruits and vegetables, he added He said that all the expenses of the board could be materialized by imposing only one rupee per kg cess on the import of tea.
He further informed that during last 6 months 93,000 metric tons of tea worth Rs. 22 billion was imported as Pakistan was among the top three tea imports including Russia and UK. Pakistan was importing tea from 17 different countries where as the out of the total volume about 72 percent was being import from Kenya, he added.