Tocklai – the pioneer institute on tea research
It was established in 1911 in Jorhat, Assam. Obviously the Indian tea industry considered the establishment of Tocklai tea research institute as a landmark event. A new era for the tea industry began in India along with it. Though it was started as the ‘Tocklai Experimental Station’ initially, later on in 1964, the Tea Research Association took over its management in the greater interest of tea research.
It is only recently, from 2014 only the Tocklai Experimental Station got its present name, Tocklai Tea Research Institute (TTRI). However many of the stakeholders simply call it Tocklai. Since the very first day of its inception, it is delivering more than what was expected of it.
How Tocklai is managing its fund
Tocklai gets part of its fund from the subscription from the tea companies. The Ministry of Commerce fulfils its balance fund need of TTRI. The Tea Board disburses this fund in the form of grant-in-aid.
As the name indicates, research is the most important core activity of TTRI. Tocklai has covered almost all aspects of tea cultivation and processing within the scope of its research activities. The tea output statistics in the region indicates the success of Tocklai’s research initiatives. The total tea production in the Assam region has almost tripled within a half-century which is nothing less than spectacular. And Assam’s tea industry is indebted to Tocklai for this stellar performance.
Some of the TTRI’s key tea research initiatives include:
1. Agronomy –
With extensive experimentation and tests, TTRI has developed a standardized procedure for pre-planting operations. This is accompanied by a guideline for optimum plant population per unit area of plantation. It has pioneered studies on mechanized pruning and harvesting successfully.
2. Bio-technology –
Started in 1980, extensive research activities are going on in the biotechnological field in TTRI. Some of these researches are somatic embryogenesis, micropropagation, protoplast culture, and so on. Tea experts in TTRI have successfully used DNA fingerprinting techniques to develop different types of molecular markers. They have applied this process to characterize large germplasm collections.
3. Climatic study –
Expert researchers have launched a project in TTRI for the development of a climate-resilient sustainable growth model for the tea industry. It studied the impact and vulnerability of tea plants on climatic changes. This project explored the ways to mitigate these challenges. There are many other study-works continuing on an ongoing basis in Tocklai. The institute shares the knowledge with the tea industry and doing its bit for the growth and betterment of the sector.
4. Water management –
One of the priority core areas for Tocklai research is water management. It is using state of the art remote sensing technology on geographic information system (GIS) platform. This has helped it to cover different tea areas on different water basins.
There are many other research domains where TTRI has a major footprint. These include pest and disease management, tea soils, organic tea etc.