ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/28 September) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has established two nurseries in Barangay La Paz, an upland farming village here, and is in the propagation stage of a Ceylon Tea variety in preparation to establish tea production center for this city and the region.
Orlando Telmo, DA La Paz experiment station superintendent, said the nurseries will provide Ceylon Tea planting materials for the farmers who have signified their interest or who wanted to plant tea in their respective farms.
Telmo said there are several fully matured Ceylon Tea trees existing in La Paz that were planted way back in 1980s by the Bureau of Plant and Industry (BPI) that will serve as the mother tree and the source of the planting materials.
The humidity, cool temperatures, and the high altitude of Barangay La Paz, 18.5 kilometers west of this city also known as “little Baguio,” can provide a climate that favors the production of the high quality tea.
Telmo said the propagated Ceylon Tea variety at the nursery level can be transplanted to its planting sites after 18 months by farmers who are interested to venture into tea farming.
To ensure sustained productivity, Telmo said the DA regional office has requested its central office to send an expert on tea production to train local technicians and farmers planting and maintaining the tea.
It is highly profitable when cultivated with the use of modern technologies and it can be processed into a finished product, Telmo said.
The DA and the non-government organization Alternative Center for Organizational Reform and Development Inc. (ACORD) have agreed to produce and expand the Ceylon Tea production in this city due to its high demand both in the domestic and export market, Telmo said.
Under the agreement the DA will conduct research and development, undertake the training, establish techno demo farm, central nursery for mass production of planting materials while the ACORD will take charge of marketing and operation of the project, he said.
The Ceylon Tea is a prized form of black tea which is increasingly becoming an important bush crop in the country.
Aside from the economic aspect, Ceylon Tea is reportedly rich in antioxidants and health promoting ingredients which can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and tooth decay. It is also said to stimulate the control of the nervous system thereby increasing the alertness and decreasing drowsiness and fatigue.
Telmo said the introduction of Ceylon Tea farming will also help generate employment since land owners will have to hire labor force to assist them in maintaining the tea farm. (MindaNews)