Regional Centre, Vandiperiyar, Central Travancore

The unique and magnetic attraction of Kerala “God’s own country”, is centered on its mountain regions, the highland area in the western ghats, in which the plantation district of Central Travancore is located. The area is one of the most beautiful and scenic parts of the Western Ghats. Crops grown in this area are tea, coffee, pepper, vanilla and cardamom. Central Travancore boasts of many places of tourist interest of international fame and occupies a pride of place on the tourist map of Kerala. Thekkady, India’s largest wildlife sanctuary, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary spread over an area of 777 sq km is surrounded by an artificial lake extending over an area of 25 sq km. The sanctuary has been declared a tiger reserve. The world famous Idukki arch dam is located adjacent to this sanctuary.

This region comprises of Peermade-Vandiperiyar zone of Idukki revenue district. This is one of the oldest planting districts of South India. Tea estates are situated at elevations varying from 750 m to 1,350 m above mean sea level. Annual rainfall ranges from a minimum of 2,000 mm in the Vandiperiyar area to a maximum of 6,000 mm in the Peermade zone. On an average, the dry spell extends to about 90 -150 days. The average minimum temperature is in the range of 18 to 20°C but can drop to about 5°C during winter months. The maximum temperature can even touch to 35°C during the summer months. The total area under tea cultivation is about 15,000 ha, with an annual production of about 20 million kilogram. Congregation of small tea growers, perhaps next to the Nilgiris, gives importance to the tea sector of this district. Besides tea, coffee, pepper and cardamom are also grown in a sizeable area. The famous ‘Cardamom Hill Reserve’ is located in Central Travancore region of Kerala.

UPASI TRF Regional Centre was established in 1964 to cater to the needs of the tea planters in Vandiperiyar and Peermade region. The present jurisdiction of this centre extends to other plating districts such as Highwavys, Singampatty group, Nagarcoil and South Travancore. This centre extends services to the estates and small tea growers on all aspects of tea cultivation. Prolonged soil moisture stress and havoc caused by insects and mite pests are the characteristics of Central Travancore region. Hence, this centre gives thrust on research activities on the pest management aspects. The quality control laboratory, which was established during 2006, has all facilities for analysis of soils, Caffeine, PFA & Liquor parameters of tea, Lime sulphur and soil amendments. Quantification of iron filings in the made tea is also possible at the laboratory.

Region specific multilocational experiments on agronomy, physiology and plant protection are being taken at the regional centre.