GUWAHATI: As Manipur intensifies its crackdown on illicit poppy farming, a local startup, Meckley Tea India Company, is proposing an innovative solution to the problem – replacing poppy with tea.
Milan Koijam, a director at Meckley Tea India Pvt Ltd, the solution to the problem lies in providing an alternative to poppy farmers now that the government is destroy poppy farms. “We believe tea cultivation is that alternative,” Koijam told the press.
Besides offering an economic alternative to poppy farming, the thriving tea industry would yield employment opportunities, promote tea tourism, and encourage cultural exchanges.
Additionally, Koijam revealed the company’s plans to establish the Meckley Institute of Tea Research and Management. They have already engaged in discussions with Dibrugarh University, Toklai Tea Research Institute, and Assam Agricultural University, all of which have shown support for the venture.
He said the formalities for starting tea cultivation in 50 hectares currently owned by the company in Ukhrul district were met in April in consultation with the Tea Board, India, officials in Guwahati. However, the violence in May hindered the progress.
The company is also exploring opportunities to expand by acquiring more land and potentially taking over state-owned tea cultivation areas for development under a public-private-partnership (PPP) model.
Anku Bora, a board member of the company, stated that tea experts from Assam are guiding them and affirmed that Manipur’s climate, topography, and location are conducive for tea cultivation. “A team will soon visit our site for further assessments,” he said.
Tea cultivation in Manipur primarily thrives in the districts of Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Senapati, and Jiribam. Over recent years, small tea growers specialising in unique varieties have begun to establish themselves in the industry.