Plant Protection Formulations (PPFs) Testing & Certification
Growing tea in India entails a number of challenges that make the use of Plant Protection Formulations as part of integrated pest management necessity for plantations and small growers. Tea being a monoculture is known to provide habitat to a large number of pests and diseases which affect crop health and persistent infestation of which can lead to severe crop losses and consequent loss of economic viability of tea operations. The climatic conditions of the tea growing regions of India are conducive for a large number of insects and mite pests, diseases and weeds that need to be managed to protect yields and sustain the livelihoods of those working to produce a saleable product for a price that consumers are willing to pay. This makes PPFs a necessary part of the production process.
Key Reasons Why PPFs are Necessary
- To protect tea against pest attacks
- To protecting tea against the impact of weather and climate
- To protect the yield
- To protect the livelihood of workers engaged in production activities
Adoption of good agricultural practices (GAP) including integrated pest management, promotion of alternative control strategies has been globally accepted as the way forward to ensure sustainable production of tea without adversely impacting environment and consumer safety. Although natural methods exist for several types of pests and diseases in India, these are insufficient for ensuring the safety of crops given the variety of the pests and the severity of the crop loss resulting from their infestation.
The seasonal nature of different kinds of pests also necessitates the application of integrated pest management across different seasons. Traditional methods to protect the crop in these conditions yielded little success. Plant Protection Formulations (PPFs) are thus an essential input for the integrated management of tea cultivation for achieving optimum productivity under prevailing conditions.
In India, the responsible use of pesticides is strictly regulated by the Government and their use kept to a minimum. A Plant Protection Code (PPC) was developed by Tea Board of India as a best practice guide to tea production, setting standards jointly agreed by key stakeholders, supplementing existing regulations, such as the Food Safety and Standards Act of India 2006 and the list of products permitted for use in the tea sector by the Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee. The PPC deals with the safe usage of crop protection products and that of methodologies to be followed to reduce pesticide residues in tea. The code encourages tea growers to critically review their use of PPFs, reduce the use of PPFs where possible and over time, apply the PPFs in the safest way possible. Various international agencies have fixed the Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) values for tea growing countries. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has set MRLs of approved PPFs for different crops including tea, in order to protect consumers. These take into account agricultural practices and exposure through consumption habits. The Indian tea industry refers to these standards, and is engaged in an ongoing process to incorporate them into its own practices.
According to the PPC set up by the Tea Board of India;
- Tea Research Institutes in India shall recommend only such Plant Protection Formulations (PPFs) that have been cleared and registered by the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee, Government of India, with label claim in tea.
- Only Tea Research Institutes in India are authorized to undertake efficacy and residue trials of new PPFs that have been cleared by CIB for other crops.
- The Advisory officers of UPASI TRF during their mandatory Advisory visits to tea gardens will take the inventory of PPFs used in each garden for compliance with the approved list mentioned in the PPC.
- Tea gardens as and when they purchase the PPFs may send a sample for testing to the Tea Research Institutes to check its purity.
PPF Testing Facility in UPASI TRF
The state-of-the-art laboratories and experimental farms in UPASI Tea Research Foundation provides a conducive environment for testing all Plant Protection Formulations covering
Our divisions such as a) Entomology, b) Plant Pathology & Microbiology, c) Botany, and d) Pesticide Residue collaborate to test the various aspects of a Plant Protection Formulation to advice on the usage and certification in the plantation sector.