*Impact of climate change on the quality and production of Darjeeling tea?*
A team from IIT Kharagpur and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) are jointly conducting a study to find an answer.
The Department of Architecture and Regional Planning of IIT-KGP and the Department of Geography and Regional Planning of IUP are currently doing the Second Summer Study Abroad Programme in India during June 3 - 18, 2017.
“Through this study we are taking a look at what are the special factors responsible to give Darjeeling tea its unique "Muscatel flavour" and"Exquisite Banquet”. From environmental perspectives we would analyze what changes or climate change impacts have been affecting the tea industries. We would also try to take a look at how the tea-gardens are evolving or changing their production process as a response to that,” said Dr. Haimanti Banerji, Principal Coordinator of the program for IIT Kharagpur.
Seven students and two faculty members of IUP have already arrived in Kolkata. On June 5 IIT-KGP and IUP held a joint one-day workshop at the American Centre, Kolkata. “Tea is something that the whole world can relate to, even Starbucks has introduced Chai Latte to their menu. And when we talk about tea it is the world famous Darjeeling tea come to the mind. This research will focus on the socio-economic and geographic issues of tea-plantations and how they are impacted by climate change. Darjeeling has been selected as test bed for this year,” said Dr. Sudeshna Ghosh, Principal Coordinator of the program for IUP along with Dr. Brian Okey.
The students from both IIT-KGP and IUP would be going to Makaibari Tea Estate and to Darjeeling Tea Research & Development Centre at Kurseong this month to conduct their field study. “We would also have to collect last fifty years weather related data of the region in order to understand the extent of climate change and the impact it have on the phenomena’s that give Darjeeling tea its unique aroma,” Dr. Ghosh added.
Speaking at the workshop Dr. Biswajit Bera, Director (Research) Tea Board of India, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Govt of India said, “Though Darjeeling Tea is synonymous to India and becomes a part of our identity abroad but very little research has been done on it because of the difficult terrain. Despite enjoying the GI Tag Darjeeling tea is facing the challenges from smaller tea growing countries. We would like to have many such national and international collaborations with climate specific research institutes in future.”
The study shall culminate in a joint report production at the end of the three weeks programme. The report would explore way forward for maintaining global competitiveness of Darjeeling tea combating the challenges of climate change and other cropping issues - said Prof. Subrata Chattopadhyay, Head of the department.
In addition, the join IIT-KGP and IUP study will also look at how the harsh reality of decreasing area of wetlands in Kolkata and increasing presence of non bio – degradable chemicals in the water, what should be the role of urban planners in a metropolitan city like Kolkata? It will look at how can the East Kolkata Wetlands be effectively used as resources for urban life.