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Climate Change and Tea production

November 14, 2013 3:14 pm by: admin Category: Columns A+ / A-

By Er. Rupanjali Deb Baruah

Climate  change  triggered  by  global  warming  is  perhaps  the  most  important environmental  challenge  faced  by  humanity  today.  The problem complexes when natural phenomena play a decisive role, e.g. in rainfall dependent agriculture.

Tea production, which is highly dependent on meteorological factors, is expected to suffer production losses due to climate change. Production falls have already started appearing because of stress (biotic and abiotic) conditions brought about by changing climate. Tea requires well distributed rainfall, moderate to high (25-300C) temperature and high humidity.

Changes in rainfall pattern (uneven distribution/abrasive pattern), wide fluctuation in temperature (increased minimum temperature/ wide gaps between minimum and maximum temperature) and low humidity will influence both the quantity and quality of tea production, which may be detrimental to long term sustainability of the tea crop. As climate parameters deviate from long term normal, these may result in increased frequency of droughts and floods and insect/pest incidences.

Over the time, these changes would lead to the tea growing areas becoming increasingly unsuitable for the cultivation of current tea varieties/clones and there may be an imminent shift to new remunerative crops suiting to changed climatic scenarios. There are already proven changes in North East Indian climate which have started affecting tea productivity in one way or the other.

Perceptible changes in rainfall and temperature have been noticed after conducting comprehensive analysis of the meteorological data by Tea Research Association scientists for the last almost 100 years which indicates that the annual rainfall has decreased in the north east region. In Jorhat area, only more than 200 mm rain was lost over last 100 years.

Distribution of the rainfall has also...