India, Sri Lanka tie up for research on tea

September 4th, 2008 - 7:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Jorhat (Assam), Sept 4 (IANS) Two of the world’s giant business competitors in tea, India and Sri Lanka, signed an agreement for a joint research on the beverage, aimed at boosting its quality and production in the two countries. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed Thursday between India’s Tea Research Association (TRA) and the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka here. This is the first such agreement between the two countries, both competing with each other in tea export in the global market.

“We are confident the MoU signed between the two countries would greatly benefit both Sri Lanka and India in terms of exchanging scientific expertise in the field of boosting quality of tea and even production as well,” Sri Lankan Industries Minister D.M. Jayaratne told IANS.

The 12-member Sri Lankan delegation would look at areas of exchange in information on plant breeding, control of pests, mechanisation of field and factory operations and patents.

“Both the institutes would work in tandem and share expertise to improve quality of tea. We hope it would be a very productive exchange of scientific knowledge,” said G. Jawardene, chairman of the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka.

Scientists at the TRA in Jorhat in eastern Assam, one of the world’s biggest facility for tea research, said science and research know no barrier and there cannot be a hindrance in exchanging ideas even though the two countries are competitors.

“Businesswise, there might be competition, but when it comes to exchanging expertise on science and technology, there should be no hesitation and we welcome such things,” said Mridul Hazarika, director of the TRA.

Earlier, the Tea Board of India and Tea Board of Sri Lanka signed a mutual recognition agreement for free flow of tea into each other’s country without having to go through the process of testing.

“The partnership between the two countries is expected to go a long way in boosting tea research work among the two giant tea exporters,” said Lalith Hattarchachi, chairman of the Tea Board of Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan delegation Thursday also called on Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and sought his cooperation in giving a boost to the joint agreement.

“I am immensely happy that Sri Lankan tea team has decided to come to Assam and carry out a joint research programme. We hope the two countries would be benefitted,” said Gogoi.

India exported about 200 million kg of tea out of its total production of about 955 million kg of tea last year. Assam accounted for 55 percent of India’s total produce.

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