ECONOMYNEXT –Production and sales of tea, Sri Lanka’s main export crop, are looking favorable this year despite suicide bombings in April and bad weather, Sri Lanka Tea Board chairman Lucille Wijewardena said.
“The tea industry was the least effected by the ethnic issues. Transportation takes place and auctions are going on as usual,” he said.
“We didn’t have a single auction which was cancelled. We got security for cases like such and so far no disruptions were seen,” he said referring to the Colombo auction and the overall functioning of both Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) and private factories and small farmers.
Suicide bombings of three churches and three hotels by Islamist extremists killed over 250 people and sharply reduced tourist arrivals, with spillover effects to other sectors of the economy.
Wijewardena said recent curfews and other security measures in the hunt for the bombers and to deal with subsequent anti-Muslin violence had not effected the industry like it had in other industries like retail.
Seventy-five percent of the tea supply comes from small farmers while only 25 percent come from the RPCs.
Quarterly exports were recorded doing better than usual, with no buyer shifting or any supply chain disruptions.
“The heat wave did not affect tea cultivation badly, only rain did because if there’s too much of rain plucking cannot take place,” Wijewardena said.
Yields have been good so far, and it is expected to continue well into the year unless there are unexpected developments, he said.
(COLOMBO 24 May 2019)