ISLAMABAD - Ministry of National Food Security and Research has established a tea nursery at Swat for facilitating farmers to increase yield by evolving quality clones.

A National Tea & High Value Crops Research Institute (NTHRI) is already working on 50 acres of land in district Mansehra and has made tremendous efforts to collect tea germplasm from different countries like Sri Lanka and China etc.

Sources at Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) on Sunday said the Institute has established tea garden on 34 acres with installation of a tea processing plant with a capacity of one ton per day.

The sources said presently two development projects are underway for promotion of tea in the country and these are Participatory Development of Tea Value Chain around Mansehra area under Agricultural Linkages Programme (ALP), and Mechanization of tea production and promotion of green tea to improve profitability under Research for Agricultural Development Programme (RADP).

Enumerating the key objectives of the Institute, they said these are determination and evaluation of quality parameters of made tea, mapping of areas in region suitable to grow tea and various high value crops and survey to collect information on existing crops and varieties and also introducing and evaluating new crops and varieties in different micro climates for commercial exploitation.

The Institute is also developing Post Harvest Management guidelines to improve quality and reduce losses and arranging training of farming communities for capacity building and transfer of technology.

Moreover, the sources said NTHRI has surveyed and identified 64,000 hectare of land suitable for tea plantation in districts Mansehra, Battagram, Swat (KPK) and 2000 in AJ&K, established Experimental Tea Garden at Battal besides setting up a progeny garden of 14 different varieties.

It has also installed Pilot Green Tea Processing Plant with capacity of 80-150 kg per day and trained small tea growers and progressive farmers in tea cultivation and processing.