The tea industry in India is nearly 180 years old now. It was in 1840 when the Assam Tea Company began the commercial production of tea in the region. It is one out of the few industries that have adopted research and development way back in 1895 which was formalized with the setting up of Tocklai Tea Research Institute in 1911. In the past , the farmers and stakeholders have relied upon the use of the Tocklai Ballometric Count for determining the “Fine Leaf Count” which have stood the test of time.
Currently, there are two traditional methods that are being used by processing centers to determine the fine leaf count — Tocklai Ballometric (TB) Count based and Weight based. The weight based method which has been used for long due to its agility is not very accurate as two samples of same weight usually differ in terms of the leaf count. This gives same value to two samples with different number of fine leaves which results in ambiguity. Though the TB count based method is very accurate, it is very time consuming as the number of fine leaves need to be counted manually .To bring in speed to the accuracy of count based methods, a lot research has been conducted by the regulatory bodies in order to devise a method that works on count base and is quick at the same time.
AgNext Technologies incubated in IIT Kharagpur which have created a niche in agricultural technologies in collaboration Tea Research Association( TRA Tocklai ) have come up with an AI-based machine that solves the problem for the industry. This machine named Tragnext FLC Machine determines the fine leaf count of a batch without any human interventions, reducing the process to seconds and improving the overall accuracy. Tragnext FLC machine can bring in payments interface done to the farmers in the tea value chain and this technology brings in transparency within the industry which benefits the farmers and creates a win-win situation for all stakeholders in the value chain.
TRA Tocklai which is a 108 year old organization of the tea industry is collaborating with AgNext Technologies to bring the strengths of both the organizations in bringing in state of the art agricultural and industrial technological innovations for the Indian tea industry. The success of the Tragnext FLC machine will be a game changer for the Indian tea industry as it will further enhance the quality of the Indian tea and bring the big and small estates at par in terms of quality. Tragnext FLC Technology will have a machine version and a mobile app version for leaf quality profiling. The Tea Board of India have given their full support on the development of the new technology.
Mr. Joydeep Phukan
Secretary & Principal Officer, TRA
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