In a boon to the South Indian tea industry, reeling under acute labour shortage and high production cost, an apex body of the planters has given the thumbs up for mechanised harvesters saying the machines were useful in increasing the product ivity. The motorised harvesters, already in use on a large scale in many estates in the Southern states, had been found to be useful in increasing productivity of labour and reducing the requirement of pluckers, the Tea Research Institute of United Pl anters Association of Southern India (UPASI) has said.
The institute, which evaluated the machines in a survey, has recommended integrated system of mechanical harvesting during the two high cropping periods-- April-June and September-November. The Tea Board has recently approved an UPASI proposal for inclu sion of harvesting machines in the list of items eligible for subsidy under the quality upgradation and product diversification scheme to hasten the process of mechanisation. The tea industry has been struggling hard for resurgence after being hit by low prices in the last six to eight years.