TEA NEWS: Isro team in Bengal brew belt – Satellites to improve management and yield – Sikkim to be totally ignored, is this good or bad for Bengal’s poor quality of research results ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Jalpaiguri, Dec. 5: A team of Indian Space Research Organisation scientists has arrived in north Bengal to conduct ground-based surveys of tea gardens before using remote sensing satellites to map the estates.
The survey is part of a project expected to help tea growers in north Bengal improve the management of their plantations and their yields.
The Isro programme jointly with the Tea Board is intended to determine actual area covered by tea in the gardens, find out if land is available for new crops, and develop plans for improved water management. Satellite imagery may also be used to monitor the uprooting of tea bushes for soil rehabilitation before fresh planting.
The Isro-Tea Board programme is initially expected to cover Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and North Dinajpur in Bengal, and more than 20 districts in Assam. A research component of the programme will aim at predicting the green leaf yield of plantations and issuing advance warnings about pest attacks and diseases.
“We are hoping that once the project is completed the tea industry would undergo an overall change for the better. Growers will have forecasts of the yields as well as information about pest attacks,” said Samaresh Mondal, the assistant director of the Tea Board office here.
Isro has already mapped areas covered under tea in about 300 large tea gardens in the Terai, Dooars and the Darjeeling hills, an Isro scientist said.
“We are currently comparing the maps with our satellite images and carrying out an on-the-spot survey of these gardens,” the scientist said.
The satellite images can also accurately determine the land lying fallow as well as map irrigation and drainage systems in the gardens. This will help identify potential drains to divert excess runoff water and improve the water management in the gardens.
A scientist also pointed out fresh mapping was being done in parts of North Dinajpur and Cooch Behar classified as a New Tea Growing Area.
“We have prepared maps for small tea gardens right from the block and the mouza levels. We are mapping both large and small tea gardens that are facing river erosion and land degradation through landslides,” the scientist said.
The scientists also said that within a year 40 weather observatories would be set up by Isro so that planters, both large and small, got forecasts of rainfall as well as changes in the weather.
The team surveyed gardens in the Kharia area of Jalpaiguri Sadar block in this morning and in the afternoon visited Mainaguri and small gardens in adjoining Cooch Behar district.
They were equipped with global positioning systems and satellite images. They said it would take another year till the survey was completed. Once the project was completed the information will be updated regularly and will be available on a dedicated server.