COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – New Peacock Estate in Pussellawa, in Sri Lanka’s central highlands has recorded a yield of 3,008 kilograms per hectare in 2014 elevating it to top position among large tea farms, the owning company said.
Elpitiya Plantations, a unit of listed Aitken Spence group said the 260 hectare tea estates the output came despite bad weather in the last four months of 2014.
"Undertaking of best practices in agriculture as emphasized by the management, making available the essential inputs to the tea fields at the right time and the commitment of all executives, staff and workers in the estate made the results possibl," said
Senerath Pahathkumbura, the General Manager in charge of New Peacock Estate and the Mid Country Cluster of Elpitiya Plantations, was quoted as saying that best practices in agriculture and inputs to fields at the right time plus worker commitment helped push up output.
"In keeping with the policy of the Company, our prime focus was to retain the workers available on the estate by giving them proper recognition and treating them as partners," Pahathkumbura said in a statemet.
"To spearhead this acknowledgement across all levels, a number of benefits have been included in addition to the current welfare and social activities undertaken at the estate.
"Some of these benefits include workers’name tags provided in all three languages and called by name; as well as uniforms for all workers, transport to workplace, rest rooms at all leaf weighing points with refreshment between meals during the rush cropping months."
The firm had also started mechanical plucking, motorized spaying of foliar nutrients and fungicide.
New Peacock Tea Processing Centre had produced about 1.2 million kilograms of CTC (cut-tear-curl) teas per years. The estate has ISO 22000:2005, Rain Forest Alliance, Ethical Tea Partnership (ETF) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificates, which had helped draw buyers, the firm said.
Elpitiya Plantations has estates in upper, mid and low country regions. It now farms tea, oil palm and coconut. The firm also has a palm oil mill and operates mini-hydro plants.
When the estate was handed over by the state in 1997, it only had tea, the company said.
Sri Lanka’s large tea estates, which were expropriated from the original owners by Sri Lanka’s post-independent rulers, eventually became a burden to the tax payers eating up hundreds of millions rupees simply to pay salaries.
They were then privatized under a lease arrangement.
Sri Lanka’s tea smallholders, who are mostly in the low country and who have freehold land have generally tended to have higher yields.