tea garden children
Tea garden children participating in the programme . Photo: Northeast Now

Over 4200 school children from 17 tea estates in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Udalguri and Sonitpur districts have come together to conserve over 100 varieties of indigenous edible and medicinal plants and herbs in the last thirty odd days.

The Sustainability programme for children which will continue in May has seen 45 schools in Apeejay Tea estates participate so far, kitchen gardens created in some of the schools which students sow and maintain, and pledge being taken to create kitchen gardens in the remaining schools in Apeejay Tea’s estates.

Haren Barua, Sustainability Manager, Apeejay Tea said, “Apeejay Tea is keen to see that the children in our estates feel ownership about the environment and become budding conservationists. In the long run, the next generation must have a much better in-depth understanding of environmental conservation and its importance. That is the goal of the initiative of Nature’s Club in our tea estates and our schools which is being pursued in two steps – identification of edible plants (to combat future food scarcity), medicinal plants, rare and endangered species of plants and their habitat as a first step towards conservation, and encouraging children to multiply the growth of such plants in schools as a second step – both ensuring that conservation of vegetation beyond tea becomes a habit among the next generation.”

The next big target at Apeejay Tea estates is the conservation of habitats of these identified plants and Apeejay Tea hopes to soon see visible and quantifiable impact of this initiative. It is only the second year of the running of Nature Clubs and yet the teams in various Apeejay Tea’s tea estates have begun to feel that the school children in their estates have developed the ability to identify edible plants.

Manmohan Bhamrah, Manager of Budlabeta Tea Estate said, “We have a small kitchen garden in the Bokpara LP School, planted by the students and maintained by them and we’r all set to increase its size and scope.

Utpal Sarmah,  manager of Pengaree Tea Estate said, “Our aim is to list out medicinal herbs for various ailments and propagate their usage which will lead to conservation of our tangible heritage and to set up a kitchen garden in the school campus this year.”

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