Threatened Tea Farms Get Protection

East China's Zhejiang Province took a big step in protecting one of its brand name products - the Xihu (the West Lake) Longjing (dragon well) Tea - last weekend.

Lawmakers of the province endorsed a statute requiring strict protection over the production area of the tea on June 29.

The statute, "Regulations on Protecting the Production Base of Xihu Longjing Tea," designated a land area of some 168 square kilometers in the vicinity of the West Lake as the production base of the tea.

The statute said no construction project, except for national key projects, is allowed to take over any land within the base.

And the statute stipulates that the tea farmers in the base are prohibited from deserting their tea lots or deciding to plant other crops, so as to guarantee stable annual tea production.

In addition, in order to avoid contamination of the tea, the base strictly prohibits use of pesticides and chemicals banned by the country.

"We were very happy to see the local government take legal measures to protect the tea," said Xie Fenggao, an expert in China's tea research.

With a history of more than 1,000 years, the Xihu Longjing Tea leads the top 10 brand names of tea in China.

However, owing to city expansion and inadequate maintenance the total planting area of the tea, mainly located in the outskirts of Hangzhou, witnessed a sharp decrease over the past two decades, said Lai Jianju, an agricultural official for the city government.

The dramatic shrinking of planting areas led to a plunge in annual tea production. On the other hand, thanks to its established popularity, the market demand for the tea remains high.

"We feel delighted that the local government passed the law to protect our interests," Ying Jianxin, a tea farmer, said.

(China Daily 07/06/2001)

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