ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s tea farms will be able to pay salaries to workers in April since tea is being plucked and prices have also risen in at auctions, but the sector is operating at 60 percent capacity, an industry official said.
“Due to the unexpected panic buying in last month there is an unexpected double digit growth in the revenue in tea industry,” Dilhan Fernando , chief executive of Dilmah Tea told an online forum organized by Advocata Institute, a Colombo-based think tank.
At the first electronic tea actions organized last week, prices went up unexpectedly.
In general there is a good demand for food exports though items like apparel are badly hit and companies are unable to pay salaries, sector officials have said.
“Generally, where the market condition are concerned, demand is strong and it is continuing strong.” Fernando said.
“In past as well tea was one of the least affected products in a crisis.”
The government’s decision to allow the tea sector to operate during the crisis had helped it get back on track but plantations and packaging are running below capacity at his group.
“Demand is really undiminished, at the moment we have 20 percent capacity operating in packaging and 60 percent capacity operating in the planting divisions,” he said.
Fernando said starting the tea auctions through e-commerce has given the opportunity for the auctions to continue.
“The industry has migrated to e auction which is not the perfect system but is workable and can be improved,” he said.
“So with that auction last week we transacted around 3 million kilos and this week it is a little bit more and in the next two weeks hopefully it will be 5 million plus kilos.”
Fernando said the industry is facing difficulties in getting money into the hands of workers, but are working out solutions.
“Whatever happen, the people have been the most important criteria” Fernando said. “Getting money to the hand of workers have been difficult, but we are working with digital brands to tackle this problem.” (Colomob/Apr18/2020)