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Arunachal “tea lady” reason behind vanishing opium cultivation

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Guwahati: A native of a village in Arunachal Pradesh also called ‘tea lady’ by many, is successfully leading people to give up cultivation of opium on their land.

Affectionately called ‘tea lady’, Basamlu Krisikro, a resident of the remote Wakro village in Lohit district, started tea plantation nine years ago. Her reason was purely personal.

In 2009, her mother was detected with lung cancer and after a successful operation in Mumbai, doctors advised her a regular dose of organic green tea.

A post graduate from Delhi University, Krisikro, who is in her early 40s now, had to go to neighbouring Assam often to fetch organic green tea. It was then that she decided to grow it in her backyard.

Today, many families in Lohit district who were earlier cultivating poppy or opium have followed the path shown by her.

Conventional tea cultivation has been prevalent in some parts of Arunachal Pradesh for ages. But it was not popular in eastern districts of the state such as Lohit, Anjaw, Tirap and Changlang — which share international borders with China.

Famous for its biodiversity, Arunachal Pradesh shares international borders with Myanmar, China and Bhutan. However, the eastern districts of the hilly state are notorious for opium cultivation, which is a cash crop and fetches huge profits to the farmers.

“The eastern districts, particularly my area (Wakro), has been known for orange plantation in the past,” said Krisikro.

“However, the orange production declined significantly over the last several years for reasons not known, forcing the once orange orchard owners to take to opium cultivation in a big way.

“This opium gave them an alternative sustainable source of income and an addiction too,” said Basamlu.

Krisikro and a medical practitioner, Nayil, took it upon themselves to convince people that tea plantation could be an alternative source of sustainable income.

“We also motivated the opium cultivators to replace their fields with small-scale tea plantations. And it did wonders. Within a year, at least, a dozen of them turned into small tea growers,” said Basamlu whose one hectare tea plantation in 2009 has been extended to five hectares now.

Only 12 grams of opium could fetch Rs.650 and one needs to invest only Rs.7,000 for opium cultivation in one hectare of land, which yields about six to seven kg of opium, said Basamlu.

In Wakro alone, there are 12,000 to 13,000 opium cultivators.

“It’s really sad to see that the consumption of opium, especially among the youth, is eating away the vitals of our society,” she said while expressing happiness that about 12 families in Wakro have totally given up opium cultivation for tea plantation.

She recently set up a tea processing unit so that the new tea planters in Wakro could supply their produces easily.

“Last year, I produced about 3,000 kg of orthodox and organic green tea and my buyers include people from India and abroad,” she said.

She said that she had approached the Arunachal Pradesh government several times seeking its intervention to stop the opium cultivation, but to no avail.

“There has been no good response from the government. I tried but failed. Had there been intervention by the government to popularize the tea plantation and as an alternative to opium cultivation, the situation would not have been so bad,” she said.(IANS)

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Know About the Health Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea is popular among fitness enthusiasts

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Green Tea
Green Tea is rich in antioxidants, particularly epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. Lifetime Stock

Green tea is popular among fitness enthusiasts and those trying to shed some kilos. Whether you are trying to boost your overall health, or just your metabolism, a couple cups of that tea can help massively, say experts.

We speak to Dolly Kumar, founder-director at Gaia – Good Health and Razi Khan, tea sommelier and director of sales and marketing at Typhoo Tea to find out.

How does green tea help?

Kumar: Green Tea is rich in antioxidants, particularly epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, and that’s why green tea can do wonders for your health. Regular consumption of it enhances the body’s metabolism, aids weight loss and helps in case of obesity, helps reduce blood cholesterol, helps control anxieties and also has anti-aging benefits.

Khan: Green tea has become a popular beverage worldwide, enjoyed by different age groups. The drink comes with loaded antioxidants and nutrients. It has become a go-to beverage for those who are conscious about their health and fitness.

Green Tea
Green tea has become a popular beverage worldwide, enjoyed by different age groups. Lifetime Stock

How much and when to take?

Kumar: 3-5 cups a day before and after meals, is ideal. Avoid consuming it post-dinner since it contains a meager amount of caffeine.

Khan: The intake should be between 2-3 cups a day. It assists in curbing appetite and should not be taken in excess. My advice is to take a cup in the morning or evening. One can drink after meals to boost your metabolism too. Advisable not to take it before breakfast.

How to choose from available flavors?

Kumar: This depends on primarily taste preference. Some like their tea minty, some like it lemony while some prefer the simple and classic taste of plain tea, and so on. Furthermore, different variants of the tea has added benefits of the active ingredients such as tea with ginger helps improve digestion and helps in sore throat, lemon helps control hunger pangs, lemon and honey helps burn fat, Cardamom helps lower blood pressure, Tulsi helps boost immunity and Jasmine helps relieve stress.

Khan: A cup of tea that helps to heal, energize, stimulate and uplift your mood, improves your health, heals emotional wounds and dissolves cultural barriers is always a good idea. It’s like your very own magic potion but finding the exact right blend for your current state of mind is essential.

Also Read- Here’s How a Low Fat Diet May Cut Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Pro tip: Pairing it with regular exercise helps increase the body’s metabolism and it is especially beneficial to drink green tea before a workout. No matter what health issue you are looking at, this could be a beverage for everyone. (IANS)