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    Green tea cultivation faces challenges in Kunar

    ASADABAD (PAN): Ongoing deforestation has further lowered production of green tea, which was badly affected during the Soviet invasion of the country, in eastern Kunar province, an official said on Sunday.

    After a 1966 survey by a Chinese firm, green tea cultivation was started in Kunar in 1972, an agriculture department official, Mirwais, said. The yield remained promising until 1988, but the cultivation came to a halt after the Soviet invasion.

    However, he said efforts were once again made to cultivate the tea in 2009, when 3,000 seedlings were imported from Pakistan. But the production was not satisfactory due to the existence of high PH rate in the acidic soil of the province.

    The ideal scale of PH for green tea cultivation should be of 4.5 value, although Kunar soil has higher value of 8 PH.

    In the past, the production had been good because the seedlings were produced by a Chinese company, the official added.

    Farmer Mohammad Zaman said the quality of seedlings exported from Pakistan was low, resulting in less production.

    Another farmer Sidiqullah asked the Agriculture Ministry to send experts to the province for new experiments in the face of high PH rate in Kunar soils.

    He said the ministry had not yet sent any official to observe tea gardens in the province over the past three years.