Bangladesh Tea Research Institute

Bangladesh Tea Research Institute (BTRI) an autonomous organisation under the Bangladesh Tea Board (BTB). The tea industry had very limited access to technology immediately after the partition of India in 1947. To solve various problems of growing and manufacturing tea, and to establish the industry on sound scientific footing, the Pakistan Tea Board decided in 1952 to establish a tea research station of its own. As a result the Pakistan Tea Research Station came into being at its present location at Srimangal on the 28th February, 1957. After liberation, the research station was raised to the status of an institute and name the Bangladesh Tea Research Institute (BTRI) in 1973. Now BTRI is one of the 10 National Agricultural Research System (NARS) institutes of the country.

The institute is located about 3.2 km away from Srimangal town. It has 3 substations, one at Kaliti, Moulvibazar, one in Sylhet town, and the remaining one at Fatikchhari, Chittagong. The director is the technical and administrative head of the research institute. Chief or Principal Scientific Officers, who are the heads of Research Department or Divisions, assist the Director in formulating and executing research programmes of the institute and offering the advisory services to the tea estates.

There are three major research departments which encompass six research disciplines. These are the Department of Chemistry comprising Soil Chemistry and Biochemistry Divisions; the Department of Crop Production consisting of the Botany and Agronomy Divisions; and the Department of Pest Management consisting of the Entomology and Plant Pathology Divisions. There are two more research divisions, ie the Tea Technology and Statistics-Economics Divisions. Various research programmes are conducted by 21 scientists (out of 35 sanctioned posts). In addition, the institute has collaborative research programmes with other research institutes and universities.

The technical news and innovations of the institute are regularly disseminated through its publications. These include the Tea Journal of Bangladesh, annual reports, circulars, pamphlets, etc. Annual training courses for the managerial staff, workshops, seminars, etc are regularly held at different times of the year. Some of the important activities of the institute include producing high yielding and quality clones of tea; establishment of bi-and poly-clonal seed baries (orchards); conservation of genetic resources of tea; raising of vegetative cuttings in the nursery using commercially feasible technique, and supplying of rooted and fresh cuttings of improved clonal materials to tea estates.

Till now, BTRI has made significant contributions in evolving and standardizing the quality of tea, and introducing its research findings to the tea industry of Bangladesh.

The notable achievements of BTRI include development of 13 high yielding, quality clones namely- BT1, BT2, BT3, BT4, BT5, BT6, BT7, BT8, BT9, BT10, BT11, BT12, and BT13; standardizing purning cycles and per unit population for higher productivity; improved tea processing techniques; and introduction of an integrated pest management scheme to protect tea plants from the maladies of pests and diseases.

BTRI's model tea garden at Bilashcherra Experimental Farm (BEF) produced 2,648 kg of tea/ha in 1998 when the Bangladesh national average was 1,149 kg/ha. [Minuddin Ahmed and AFM Badrul Alam]