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Sri Lanka tea plantations improve harvests with mechanization

Mar 22, 2016 06:55 AM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)

SHEARS:  Using shears can help boost productivity

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) say experiments with mechanization like use of shears for harvesting tea has led to better yields as they struggle to improve labour productivity amid losses caused by low prices.

“The Regional Plantation Companies are assisting workers to improve productivity through various means, as it is critical for the sustainability of the country’s plantation industry,” said Roshan Rajadurai, Chairman of
the Planters’ Association of Ceylon which represents RPCs.

“There is significant room for improvement in the productivity front in comparison with competitor nations.”

Roshan Rajadurai said all stakeholders should cooperate in improving productivity, especially given the large losses being incurred in the production of tea at present, as a result of low auction prices but high
production costs.

Talks between RPCs and labour unions have remained deadlocked for months with workers resisting attempts to link higher wages with improved productivity.
The PA said in a statement that there were early encouraging signs from recent experiments with shear plucking at RPC estates.

“To support plantations workers too in improving productivity, Regional Plantation Companies are mulling greater use of manual shears, recent experiments of which have shown early encouraging signs.”

In order to improve the plucking efficiency and to overcome the shortage of pluckers, more and more estates are resorting to the use of harvesting shears.

Compared with other competing tea economies, figures indicate that the labour productivity of Sri Lankan tea pluckers is very low, the PA said.
“It is expected that the use of the shears will mitigate this anomaly to some degree but greater effort is required to catch up with the outputs of other countries.”
(COLOMBO, March 22, 2016)


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