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Wednesday May 18th, 2022
Economy

Sri Lanka 2021 tea output up 9.3-pct despite fertilizer crisis – minister

Sri Lankan tea plucker

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s tea production in 2021 rose 9.3 percent to 305 million kilogram from a year ago despite a fertilizer crisis, Plantation Minister Ramesh Pathirana said.

Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa banned chemical fertilizers overnight from April last year citing they are harmful for public health.

Tea industry feared production loss due to lack of chemical fertilizers as well as change in the taste and other characteristics of Ceylon tea, which is globally popular..

“The tea industry in particular is showing signs of improvement. Tea production in 2020 is 279 million kg. But despite the fertilizer crisis, we produced 305 million kilos of tea last year,” Minister Pathirana said in a statement.

“Applying too much chemical fertilizer does not yield much. Fertilizer has clearly been misused in our country. In order to get a very high yield, organic fertilizers should be applied along with chemical fertilizers.”

He said the current “difficult season will end in the next six months” and urged the people to be patient until then.

The last year’s output growth also comes amid repeated protests by plantation workers over daily wage and change in workloads.

“The government will implement several special programs in the future to promote tea cultivation,” he said.

The minister said only less than 50 percent of the Rs.1.5 billion money allocated for a project to provide water for cultivation was spent, while a World Bank loan scheme will provide $20 million US dollars for the development of tea cultivation.

“We will provide that money to the people through public and private banks,” Pathirana said.

“Also, facilities will be provided for anyone who wishes to cultivate tea. Tea plants and compost fertilizers are provided free of charge.”

Tea is Sri Lanka’s main agricultural export commodity and earned around 1.1 billion US dollar revenue in the first 10 months of 2021, the central bank data showed. (Colombo/Jan 22/2022)

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