Tea Cultivation Technology in Pakistan-Agricultural News                              November 28, 2020

Introduction

Tea (Camellia Sinensis L.) is used as common beverage in almost all over the world. Pakistan has a long tradition in tea drinking which has become a favourite source of entertainment in the society. The per capita consumption is one kilogram. Pakistan imports all its tea requirements from abroad and, thus, the total annual import of tea was 2,60,000 m. tons in 2000 which costed about Rs. 12.0 billion to the national exchequer. Presently, Pakistan is the second largest importer of tea after United Kingdom. Demand for tea is growing day by day and in the wake of high growth rate of population (3.1% annually)

Soil and Climate

Tea is a crop of wide adaptability and grows in a varying range of climates and soils in various parts of the world. Deep liable loam and forest land rich in organic matter is very ideal. Generally tea soils of Pakistan are generally with organic matters, N, Potash, low K, lime and magnesia content hence soil Reaction is medium to strongly acidic.

Practice of liming is not followed in ease of tea because tea-does not thrive well on a soil which contains more than a trace of active lime sub soil should not be hard and Stiff and growth of tea on clay soil is more uniform and tea is of better quality than tea grown on coarse sandy soils.

i) Climate: Annual rainfall above 1000mm Air temperature: 12° – 30° C ii) Soil: pH value ranging from 4.5 to 6.5 iii) Labour: Cheap and adequate

Land Preparation

Cultural Method

Tea is taken on hilly areas; the land is prepared by cutting of low growing vegetation arid unwanted forest trees are cut and removed. Except few selected ones left for shade Stoop slopes are terraced and provided with contour drains and silt traps. A thick-wind-break of silver oak (Gravilica rohusta) is planted on the periphery. Also shade trees Viz. Silver oak, Jack are planted at adjoined 12-15 m apart a year in advance of the main plantation to provide protection: to provide protection against i.e. to provide shade, heat and torrential rains. They are lopped every year to provide adequate light and air.After field / land preparation pits measuring of 30-45 em deep, 22 cm diameter, are dug at distance of 1.2 to 1.5 m from one another. Filled with mixture of surface soil + FYM leaf mould.

Varieties

The best-known Chinese variety, Keemun, was tested under the environmental conditions of Pakistan, and the growth, production and green tea was found to be successful.

Cultivation Areas

Districts of Mansehra, Battagram, Swat and AJK.

Raising of Seedlings

Generally propagated by seeds; but vegetatively propagated plants give high yield, high quality, budding, grafting and layering have also been found successful.

Seeds sown first in germinating beds, then seedlings transferred- to other nurseries or baskets containing, loose friable soil. Here seedlings are allowed to grow for 6-8 months and subsequently 1.5 year (17 months) old seedlings are planted in April – May or Sept. Oct. In pits (previously prepared) dug in the permanent stags, Gapfiling as- well- as replacing, in to 30 years old bushes are also done at this time.

Manuring

Fertilizers mixtures supplying 60 kg N: 30 kg. P2O5 30 K20/ha are applied in one or two doses after pruning. Nitrogenous manuring is very essential for . promotion for leaf growth. Besides this application of compost and benefit derived from leaf fall of leguminous shade trees are grown for incorporation in the soil as green manures.

Inter Cultivation

The tea-gardens are hood and weeded 3 to 5 times during the rainy season. Shade trees are lopped to promote lateral development which will shade large area.

Topping and Pruning

Tea bush is pruned regularly to maintain proper shade i.e. 1,2 to-1.5 meter diameter at 1 to L2 meter height.When the plants are one year old-and have attained a height of 45 cm at this stage entering is done. Main stem is cut a few cm. above ground. The new laterials developed by the plant are again cut a little higher up.This process is repeated every year. In 4 or5 years me plant becomes a mature bush of 45-60 cm height and is ready to yield a crop. To encourage lateral spread, all shoots growing through center of the bush should be removed.After a cycle of pruning, the bush is cut back to 2-3 cm below the first cut This encourages fresh laterals and maintains yield at a high level.

Plucking and Processing

Tea bush is ready for yielding after 4 to 5 years of planting and having a height of 45-60 cm. Usually plucking is restricted to 2 leaves and a bud. This is called a fine and light plucking. Coarse plucking includes extra one or two leaves. In North Tea is plucked at interval of 7-10 days from April-Dec. in South plucking continues throughout the years at weekly interval during March-May and at 10-14 days during other 3 months i.e. during June-Feb. (9 months).

Processing

For manufacturing of Black tea, the plucked leaves are dried for 18 – 24 hours in ventilated indoor racks rolled for half an hour mechanically to breakup cells, then fermented or oxidized again for 8 hours at 27°C to 105°C and passed through sieves of different moshes, thus sorting out grades and again graded into.

a) leaf b) Broken c) Dust tea.

Yield

The average yield is 1200-1500 kg/ha of made tea. Vegetatively propagated clones often give as much as 2000 kg/taken during cultivation and processing but on natural factors such as soil, climate, altitude and topography. Leaves are rich in caffeine and tannin.

Vegetable Growers Should Apply Fungicides to The Seeds to Control Diseases

LYALLPUR CITY, Nov 28, 2020:: Farmers are instructed to follow the precautionary measures against the threats of scabies, late blight, and downy mildew attack while planting vegetables in tunnels.

To control these diseases, cultivate the seeds with crop rotation by applying fungicide thiophenate methyl or carbendazim. Remove the infected plant from the field, burn them, and also spray the chemicals for protection.

Tackling Food Allergies at the Source

LOWA STATE UNIVERSITY, USA, Nov 24, 2020:: Food allergies are a big problem. About 7% of children and 2% of adults in the U.S. suffer from some kind of food allergy. These allergies cost a whopping $25 billion in health care each year. Then there's the time lost at school or work. And there's the risk of serious complications, even death.

It's critical to find ways to reduce the suffering caused by food allergies. Food processing companies already spend a lot of effort to label products so people can avoid items they're allergic to. But what if we could do better? What if we could enjoy the foods we like without worrying they might trigger a health crisis?

That's the focus of Eliot Herman's work. Herman has spent his career studying why plants trigger allergic reactions and how to reduce the chance of them being triggered. Herman is a member of the Crop Science Society of America and recently presented his work at the virtual 2020 ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting. "Food allergies are an important societal issue. By altering food and by treating sensitive individuals, this can be mitigated, improving their lives and impacting the total medical expenditure in the U.S.," says Herman.

Herman focuses particularly on soybeans. Soybean allergies especially affect children and infants. And because soybean products like oil and protein are used in countless food products, it's hard to avoid. Earlier in his career, Herman found the protein made by soybeans that is responsible for most soybean allergies. Now, he has dedicated his work to understanding why this protein is so aggravating and how we can reduce it in the crop.

To do so, he's turning to animal models. Pigs sometimes have a soybean allergy very similar to that of humans. Herman worked with a research team that bred pigs that are extra sensitive to soybeans. Testing new crops on allergic children wouldn't be possible. But these pigs can be used to see how well plant breeders have done at removing allergenic proteins from soybean seeds.

That's a feat that Herman has done not once, but twice. Previously, Herman partnered with the company DuPont to produce a line of soybeans that couldn't make the most allergenic protein. They made this soybean line using genetic engineering. This new soybean was a genetically modified organism (GMO), and there was also demand for a non-GMO soybean without the allergenic protein.

So Herman went back to the drawing board. He worked with his colleagues to find a line from the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) national soybean collection that naturally didn't make the allergenic protein. That means no genetic engineering would be necessary. They then crossed that line of soybeans with a more commonly grown soybeans to create a new, productive soybean with reduced allergic sensitivity.

"This new soybean is intended to be a low-allergen prototype to be tested as a conventional, non-GMO line to mitigate the allergic response for consumers," says Herman. The hypersensitive pigs can now be used to test if these low-allergen soybeans are safe enough for allergic individuals. That wouldn't only be good for allergic people who want to safely eat more items from the grocery store. It would also be good news for animals.

Since pigs are often fed soybeans, a low-allergen soybean could reduce their own allergic response. Dogs also have a high prevalence of allergic reactions to soybean, which is used in some dog foods. So reducing the crop's allergenicity would be good for man's best friend, too. "Food has been recognized as medicine since ancient times. By reducing soybean's allergens, we hope to produce positive a medical outcome for humans and animals," says Herman.

Eliot Herman is a professor of plant sciences and Bio5 Institute at the University of Arizona. This work was funded by United Soybean Board and the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. American Society of Agronomy. "Tackling food allergies at the source." Science Daily. Science Daily, 18 November 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201118080800.htm>.

Crop Diversification Can Improve Environmental Outcomes Without Sacrificing Yields

LOWA STATE UNIVERSITY, USA, Nov 23, 2020:: A new study shows diversifying agricultural systems beyond a narrow selection of crops leads to a range of ecosystem improvements while also maintaining or improving yields. But a professor of agronomy at Iowa State University who co-authored the study said some marketing and agricultural policy considerations will have to change for farmers to adopt diversification practices more widely.

The study, published last week in the academic journal Science Advances, analyzed the results of 5,188 separate studies that included 41,946 comparisons between diversified and simplified agricultural practices. An international team of researchers carried out the study, known as a meta-analysis, and looked for patterns in the mountains of data collected in previous field studies. The results showed that in 63% of the cases examined, diversification enhanced ecosystem services while also maintaining or even improving crop yields. The researchers described this as a "win-win" result.

"The overall conclusion is there's a lot to be gained from diversifying cropping practices," said Matt Liebman, a professor of agronomy at Iowa State and co-author. "Across many different countries in many different climates and soils, with many different crops, the general pattern is that with diversification, you maintain or increase crop yields while gaining environmental benefits."

Agriculture in the Midwest is dominated by just a few crops, mainly corn and soybeans. But the study looked at a range of farming practices aimed at introducing more diversity to cropland. Those diversification practices include crop rotations, planting prairie strips within and along fields, establishing wildlife habitat near fields, reducing tillage and enriching soil with organic matter. Such measures improve water quality, pollination, pest regulation by natural enemies, nutrient turnover and reduced negative climate impacts by sequestering carbon in the soil.

"My colleagues and I wanted to test if diversification is beneficial for both agricultural production and ecosystem services. The current trend is that we simplify major cropping systems worldwide. We grow monocultures on enlarged fields in homogenized landscapes. The results of our study indicate that diversification can reverse the negative impacts that we observe in simplified forms of cropping on the environment and on production itself," said lead author Giovanni Tamburini at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and University of Bari.

Changes in policy needed

Liebman said barriers related to government ag policy, market considerations and the dissemination of data discourage farmers from adopting many of the diversification practices examined in the study. But showing that such practices do not depress yields, and in some cases increase them, might encourage farmers to consider the practices.

Many current policies and market conditions incentivize farmers to focus on a few highly productive and profitable crops. In Iowa, that means corn and soybeans are grown on the majority of cropland. But Liebman said rethinking those considerations, as well as working with farmers to transfer knowledge that allows them to gain confidence with diversification, could lead to wider use of the practices.

The meta-analysis approach allowed the research team to combine data from thousands of other studies that tested how crop diversification affects yields. The researchers used innovative data analytics to find patterns in those results, Liebman said. The approach allowed the research team to gain a new level of insight that isn't possible with individual experiments.

"What our study suggests is that if we want improved water quality and enhanced wildlife habitat and if we want to continue to work on the soil erosion problem, diversification offers a lot of options to us," Liebman said. Iowa State University. "Crop diversification can improve environmental outcomes without sacrificing yields." Science Daily. Science Daily, 10 November 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201110133217.htm>.

Four Countries at Risk of Famine: UN Food Agencies Warn

NEWYORK, (Layalpur Post), Nov 23, 2020:: People in four food insecurity “hotspots” in the world are at the brink of famine, a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has warned. Burkina Faso, northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen need urgent help or they could slide into famine if conditions there undergo any further deterioration over the coming months. “We are at a catastrophic turning point. Once again, we face the risk of famine in four different parts of the world at the same time,” said Margot van der Velden, WFP Director of Emergencies.

“When we declare a famine it means many lives have already been lost. If we wait to find that out for sure, people are already dead,” she added. The “Early Warning Analysis of Acute Food Insecurity Hotspots” report was released on November 6th. It uses the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system to chart escalating degrees of food insecurity which include five phases. IPC phase 5 (Catastrophe/famine) is the most severe.

Within the four hotspot countries, parts of the population are facing emergency acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 4) – a critical hunger situation with extreme depletion of livelihoods, insufficient food consumption and high acute malnutrition. In the case of Burkina Faso, many households are already in IPC Phase 5 and are experiencing famine-like conditions. The number of desperately hungry people in the country has almost tripling compared to 2019, driven by increasing conflict, displacement and COVID-related impacts on employment and food access.

But these four hotspots are not the only countries painted in red on the world map published in the report. Another 16 countries are at high of facing potential spikes in high acute food insecurity, driven by multiple overlapping drivers, such as conflict, economic decline, climate extremes and the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, there are 21.8 million people now estimated to be acutely food insecure - the highest number ever registered for a single country. The report has the aim to inform decision-makers in order to avoid a major emergency - or series of emergencies - in the coming months.

“This report is a clear call to urgent action,” said Dominique Burgeon, FAO's Director of Emergencies and Resilience. “We are deeply concerned about the combined impact of several crises which are eroding people's ability to produce and access food, leaving them more and more at risk of the most extreme hunger. We need access to these populations to ensure they have food and the means to produce food and improve their livelihoods to prevent a worst-case scenario.

” How the situation evolves in high-risk countries will depend on conflict dynamics, food prices, and the myriad impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their food systems, rainfall and harvest outcomes, humanitarian access, and the readiness of donors to continue funding humanitarian operations, FAO and WHO informed in a press release. The UN agencies called for urgent action from the international community and reminds us to learn our lesson from the crisis in Somalia. “In 2011, Somalia suffered a famine that killed 260,000 people. The famine was declared in July, but most people had already died by May. We cannot let this happen again. We have a stark choice; urgent action today, or unconscionable loss of life tomorrow,” van der Velden warned. (ab.)

Minister Floats Idea of Seed Banks

KARACHI, Nov 20, 2020:: Seed technology of Pakistan requires a paradigm shift and the country needs to learn from other nations how it can add value to its seeds to build resilience to climate change, diseases and pests, said Minister for National Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam.

Speaking at a webinar titled “China-Pakistan Agricultural Cooperation and Prospects”, organised by the China Economic Net and The Express Tribune on Thursday, the minister said that Pakistan should establish seed banks so that seeds from other countries could be stored there.

He stressed that Pakistan needed to learn from China’s expertise in the agriculture sector. “China has performed exceptionally well and raised its cotton production by a huge margin,” he told the webinar participants. “Pakistan used to produce a mammoth amount of cotton but unfortunately we have fallen behind now.”

The minister emphasised that Pakistan should learn hybrid seed production from China because currently it was importing high-yielding rice seeds from Beijing.

He recalled that in March 2020 Pakistan and China had signed a memorandum of understanding to make technology and agriculture part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

“We look forward to benefitting from it because agriculture contributes 19.3% to Pakistan’s GDP (gross domestic product) and employs 40% of the workforce,” he said.

“With all the measures the government is taking to facilitate investors from China, we hope that relations between the two countries will deepen in future,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Board of Investment Secretary Fareena Mazhar pointed out that the agriculture sector represented a fifth of Pakistan’s economy, however, the output had been declining for the past few years.

She stressed that Internet of Things (IoT) could help farmers optimise resources and enhance productivity, adding that the government had introduced reforms aimed at energising business growth to uplift the agriculture sector.

She pointed out that 64 out of 313 tariff lines included in the second phase of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement were related to agricultural products.

Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Director Market and Trade Research Office Zhai Xueling said that cooperation between Pakistan and China in the agriculture sector had solid foundations.

“Comparative advantages are at play on both sides. Pakistan has low-cost labour while China has the technology to aid the agriculture sector of Pakistan,” she said.

“China’s trade with Pakistan has increased, and both imports and exports have jumped.” China mainly imported rice and aquatic products from Pakistan.

According to Zhai, China can help Pakistan with drip irrigation as well as primary food processing techniques, which would help leverage Pakistan’s geographical position.

She was of the view that Pakistan’s economy was in a good shape having massive potential and excellent investment climate. She voiced hope that Pakistan’s production of nuts, cotton and yarn would expand in the coming years.

National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ehsanullah Tiwana held the opinion that improvement in agriculture was the only way for expanding Pakistan’s economy.

He lamented the bureaucratic hurdles in the sector as quality seeds failed to reach farmers. “We are making efforts to introduce a policy, which will result in agricultural surplus,” he said.

He pointed out that Pakistan, despite being a cotton-producing country, was importing the commodity due to shortfall caused by climate change and substandard seeds. In that regard, he revealed, he would present policy recommendations to Prime Minister Imran Khan within six to eight weeks.

Recovery of Pakistan’s power loom industry and agriculture with positive growth despite Covid-19 should be taken as positive signals, he stressed and highlighted that at present the agriculture sector had a shortage of workers, which was a positive sign as jobs were being generated.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong said that China and Pakistan had jointly established communication channels for business-to-business cooperation and information sharing.

“This will encourage both sides to invest in seed industry, agricultural material, agricultural industry and agriculture product processing,” he said.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Moinul Haq said that agriculture had been identified as the sector that would be given special attention. Under CPEC phase-II, agricultural cooperation was included as part of the socio-economic development strategy, he said.

He told webinar participants that a special working group on agriculture was established in cooperation with China in March 2020 and a plan of action was being discussed between food ministries of the two nations to implement a large number of joint projects.