25-year flavourful journey for organic tea garden in Assam

From a humble beginning of tea cultivation on a two-katha plot of land in 1995, Meen Mohan Tea Estate in Lakhimpur district of Assam has come a long way.

The 10-bigha tea plantation, one of the first organic small tea plantations in the Northeast, is today among the top small tea gardens in the state.

The hand-made tea from this garden is sold not only in the major cities in the country but is in good demand abroad.

The estate, located in Madhupur village, will celebrate its silver jubilee year from February 1.

“Meen Mohan will be the first organic small tea garden in the Northeast to celebrate its silver jubilee year,” said Gobin Hazarika, the owner of the tea estate, told The Telegraph over the phone.

Small tea growers have become a force to reckon with in Assam.

The state accounts for more than 50 per cent of tea production in India, the world’s second-biggest producer after China. The small growers contribute more than 40 per cent of Assam’s total tea production.

Hazarika said a host of dignitaries from Canada, who have been buying tea from him regularly, will attend the two-day function.

Peggy Carswell, a lady from Canada, who is considered the guiding force for many small tea growers in Assam, will be the chief guest on the occasion.

“I give full credit to Peggy for popularising my tea in the international market…she has promised to come along with her family to attend the function,” Hazarika said.

Over the past 20 years, Peggy has trained hundreds of people in Assam and other states in the Northeast, especially small tea growers, in the basics of organic farming.

Peggy, the coordinator of non-profit organisation, Fertile Ground, was awarded the 2016 Women’s Creativity in Rural Life for her work with farmers and tea growers in Assam.

Apart from Peggy, a group of tea buyers from the US, Egypt and Hong Kong, who have been buying Meer Mohan tea regularly, will attend the function.

Hazarika said a group of scientists from Tocklai Tea Research Institute, led by the institute’s director, will attend a workshop scheduled to be held on the inaugural day of the celebrations.

“We are also planning a colourful programme to mark the occasion,” Hazarika said.

He said tea production in his garden has been down in the past few years because of a massive pest attack.

“We are not being able to meet the demand from various buyers from several countries because of a shortage of production,” he said.

The garden produced nearly 1,000kg of handmade tea annually until a few years ago.

Meen Mohan produces green, black and orthodox teas.

Pradip Baruah, a leading tea scientist, said Hazarika is a pioneer of organic tea cultivation and handmade tea in Assam.

“His teas have a special flavour,” Baruah said.

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