Field Studies in India II: Impacts of Changing Environmental Conditions on Tea Gardens of Darjeeling

Authors: Sudeshna Ghosh*, Indiana University Of Pennsylvania, Andrea Viazanko, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Haimanti Banerji, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, Subrata Chattopadhyay, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
Topics: Asia, Human-Environment Geography, Mountain Environments
Keywords: India, Darjeeling Tea Gardens, Sustainable Development
Session Type: Illustrated Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Canal St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In June 2017, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) conducted a study abroad program in collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (IIT-Kgp), involving 9 students and 4 faculty members to explore environmental and sustainability issues in Eastern India. This interdisciplinary and international collaborative program undertook two studies, one of them being the study of the impacts of changing socio-economic and environmental conditions on the tea-gardens of Darjeeling, West Bengal, India. The tea-gardens of Darjeeling are protected under the Geographical Indicator Act of 2004, implying that the tea produced by these gardens possess specific quality, reputation and other characteristics essentially attributed to its geographic origin: the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India. Our study outlines the process of Darjeeling Tea (DT) production, from plucking , withering, rolling, fermenting, to drying; the ideal climatic conditions for DT production; the key characteristics of four flushes of DT; and the key challenges to sustaining the production of DT as a result of 1) its labor-intensive plucking process, 2) changing economic pattern with tourism-oriented growth, 3) changing technology for processing of tea leaves, 4) reduction in yield by organic production methods, and 5) changing climatic conditions and patterns. In addition, we apply GIS techniques to identify the ideal locations for DT production within Darjeeling district considering the slope, elevation and direction of sunlight. Our findings suggest a number of conflicting socio-economic and environmental conditions threaten the sustainability of DT production, which needs to be addressed from policy perspectives.

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