Sun, Sep 27, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Tea traceability cloud launched

CONSUMER CHOICE:Amid the many pesticide scandals that have surrounded the nation’s tea industry, the government has initiated a program to assist consumers

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

The Council of Agriculture has developed a tea traceability system using cloud computing to allow consumers to trace the source and production of tea, while using Facebook to provide instant advice on pest prevention and control to farmers.

To boost the quality and traceability of tea amid recent pesticide scares involving tea drinks, the council’s Tea Research and Extension Station on Tuesday said that it launched an online platform for tea farmers and enterprises to list the information of each product batch, which consumers can access via a QR code attached to the product or access on a Web site to search for approved suppliers.

Information listed on the Web site includes the product’s place of origin, manufacturer, pesticide test results, certificates and the flow and volume of each harvest, the council said.

Four major tea companies have been included in the system, the Tait Marketing and Distribution Co, the producer of Kaisi oolong tea, and Good Young Co, which supplies the nation’s Starbucks franchises, the council said.

The system also includes 200 small-scale tea farms, with 60 tonnes of tea leaves shipped this year registered in the system, the council said, adding that it aims to include 1,000 tea farmers by the end of this year, and half of the nation’s 12,000 farmers by 2017.

The system could be used to market “quality” and organic tea products, as a tea competition in July saw all the competing, pesticide-free products labeled with the traceability code, the council said.

Separately, the council’s Kaohsiung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station launched a question-and-answer platform on Facebook to provide prompt assistance to farmers in diagnosing suspected plant diseases.

Farmers can upload photographs of affected plants to the council’s Facebook page to seek advice and station staff are to give a diagnosis and suggest pest control measures.

The page has attracted more than 5,000 users, the Kaohsiung station said.

In cases where a suspected plant disease cannot be determined by sight, the council would contact the farmer and request a sample of the diseased plants, the Kaohsiung station said.

Academics have been invited to participate in the platform, the Kaohsiung station said, adding that a suspected case of foliar blight of roselle sparked discussions online.

The tea-tracing Web site can be accessed at www.safetea.com.tw.

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