Tea is used as an intercrop for rubber at a ratio of 70% tea and 30% rubber. This cropping system is to protect
the rubber trees from root damage during cold weather, reduce soil erosion, improve soil quality, and provide economic benefits to the small landholder farmers in China. The planting arrangement is: 2 rows of rubber trees with a planting distance of 2 m in between rows and 2.5 m in between hills and in between the rubber trees are 18 m of tea plants with a planting distance of 40-60 cm in between rows x 40-60 cm in between hills. Rubber trees should provide at least 30% shade to the tea plants to produce good quality tea leaves.
In addition, several crops are rotated like; sweet potatoes, corn, rice, pineapple, cassava, peanuts and other legumes, and traditional medicinal plants to make use of the available space at different elevations of the area.
Tea producing countries in Africa increased their tea production in 2004 by up to 19% due to the favorable weather conditions and the expansion of the processing capacity. Other countries that increased
their production on the same year are China, Turkey, and Sri Lanka. Major producers, India and Bangladesh, declined their tea production due to unfavourable weather conditions and widespread recession.
The global harmonization and strict adherence of the food standards, particularly Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) and appropriate marketing strategies that includes market access, would improve the economic returns for the tea industry.
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- CABI. (2001): Crop protection compendium. Global module, 3rd edition. CAB International Publishing. Wallingford, UK.
- FAO. (2005): Current market situation and medium-term outlook. Committee on Commodity Problems, Intergovernmental Group on Tea. 16th Session Proceedings. Bali, Indonesia.
- Parham, W.; Durana, P.; Hess, A., Editors. (1993): Improving degraded lands: Promising experiences from South China. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu.
- Parlham, W. (2005): The rubber/tea agroforestry system of South China: A short review. China Tropical Land Research. Federation of American Scientists, China
- Research Institute of Organic Agriculture. (2002): Organic coffee. cocoa, and tea. 1st Edition, Druckzentrum Schutz AG, Zurich.
- Zeiss, M.; den Braber, K. (2001): Tea IPM ecological guide. A trainers' reference guide on crop development, major agronomic practices, and disease and insect management in small-holders' tea cultivation in northern Vietnam. CIDSE, Vietnam.