A brief report on the visit to SA
Dr. Romesh Kr Boruah, Senior Advisory Officer (Principal Scientist), TRA and Dr. Tanmoy Karak, Senior Scientist (Soil) and PI of Indo-South Africa project, TRA visited South Africa in the second fortnight of February, 2015 by honouring a formal request of the Scientists from the South African counterpart of an ongoing international collaborative research project (Indo-SA) at Upper Assam Advisory Centre, TRA, Dikom. The visit was fully sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India. During their stay for a period of 14 days they visited University of Pretoria, University of South Africa and University of Limpopo in addition to North-West University (NWU), the present working place of Prof F. R. Kuto, PI of the South African part of the Indo-SA project. A highly interactive session with the South African scientists chaired by Prof. M. Davhana-Maselesele, Rector, NWU had been taken up at her office in Mafikeng Campus. The chairperson expressed her keen interest for more and more collaborative research programme with India for benefit of both the countries particularly its tea Industries. She also expressed her strong determination to invite tea scientist from India for postdoctoral work in NWU University for mutual benefit of tea research in the countries.
Apart from discussing extensively on the ongoing joint research project, Dr. Boruah and Dr. Karak had interacted with the senior Scientists/Faculties of all the four universities they visited to find out possibilities of more collaboration with those universities in future. In North-West University, Dr. Tanmoy Karak made a comprehensive presentation on the various aspects of the on-going project and Dr. R. K. Boruah made a presentation on ‘Global tea scenario vis-à-vis Indian tea’.
They also visited Tshivhase Tea Estate in Limpopo Province, where the field experiment of the project would be conducted. The tea estate having own factory for manufacturing once had 3000 KMTH average yield which, of course, was declining gradually due to several factors, in fact, not beyond their control at all. Even good scope is there to improve both crop and quality with the existing plant materials and available infrastructure in the estate, which had certainly been pointed out in brief to the General Manager of the estate during the course of discussion with him.
Since, arid, semi-arid and sub-humid regions are occupying over 94% area of the country leaving a small percentage only to fall under humid region (annual rainfall 1000mm or more), which is a basic requirement for successful tea cultivation, large scale tea plantation would certainly not be possible in South Africa, but still possibility may be explored to grow tea in the available humid areas taking into consideration of the high yield potential of Tshivhase Tea Estate already referred above. Humid regions have mostly got Red and Laterite soils with good soil depth and organic matter content apparently to support good growth of tea. Possibility of promoting and exporting Indian Tea may also be explored as the interacting scientists/faculties of the universities had shown high curiosity and interest about health benefit of tea drinking particularly that of good quality Indian tea.