The Tea Board of India has issued a standard operating procedure to ensure that the tea produced during the lockdown is free from any contamination and the workforce is safe.
Production has resumed in the gardens in a staggered manner and with a much-reduced workforce and it is expected that the output this fiscal will be around 1,250 million kilos, of which around 210 million kilos will be exported.
“In view of the ongoing situation because of the spread of the coronavirus, it is necessary that a set of stipulated guidelines are followed for the workforce and also for the benefit of the industry. That is why the SOP has been prepared for all important tasks like plucking and processing of tealeaves and storage and transport of tea,” said a source in the Tea Board.
As per the SOP, it is the responsibility of the management to screen each worker every day before and after duty.
“It has been mentioned that a proper record of the screening, with details of the workers, should be maintained and shared with the local health administration. In case any migrant worker has returned to the gardens in recent weeks, there should be proper screening of the individual before he is engaged in any work of the garden,” said Bijoygopal Chakraborty, the president of the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers’ Associations.
The SOP also mentions the engagement of a minimum number of workers at any given time as per the directions of the state and central governments.
While the Centre is allowing the engagement of 50 per cent of the workforce at any given point of time, the Bengal government has said a maximum of 25 per cent of the workers can be engaged.
For tea production, the tea board has advised that there should be minimum handling of green leaves, right from plucking to production, regular sanitisation of equipment and the use of drones to keep vigil on workers during plucking and other field activities.
“Minimum handling of the finished goods is to be ensured by the factory managers or workers. The finished products shall be packed properly without giving scope for any kind of contamination,” said the guidelines.
“Tea estates are already following most of these guidelines. It is good that the tea board has come up with an SOP…,” said Sumit Ghosh, the secretary of the Terai branch of the Tea Association of India.
Source: The Telegraph