|Tuesday, 15 June 2004|
Formulate plans to meet future challenges of tea industry - PM
by Steve A. Morrell
It is high time that researchers and businessmen engaged in the tea industry formulate plans to face the future challenges that are bound to occur due to the competition among tea suppliers to the international market, said Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse.
Having lauded the TRI for producing this impressive chronicle of work it had undertaken during this period, he said it was now time that the industry looked ahead and projected its global importance to be sensitive to rapid change as done in countries who are constantly looking for new technology to compete with the tea industry here.
'The tea industry has come a long way since its inception and more significantly the contribution of the TRI in its history of 75 years of research and progress during this period'. He was speaking at the launch of the Book 'Twentieth Century Tea research in Sri Lanka', yesterday.
What would the tea industry be in the next 15 to 25 years? "What would the solutions be at that time when problems arise", he asked. He said there were four critical elements that would come into focus.
Quality of tea, cultivation, and manufacture in relation to the markets it would serve would command attention in a more formidable manner than in the past. More important could be the landmass it would use in relation to the role it would play in the country's economy. The level of employment it could improvise would be of intense importance because of the literally huge block of human resources it has and could develop for further enhancement of the industry.
Workers who lived and worked on estates for many generations now prefer employment in towns.
This was shocking because young people were moving out of their homes and prefer to out - migrate for more lucrative employment. The industry would have to address future questions such as these and devise plausible solutions to sustain and improve with the future constantly in focus.
The foreign exchange it could earn, he noted was not at the same level it was at least three decades ago, which was reason to question what it is that ails the industry to have it respond as swiftly as the intensified demands become more competitive.
It was also relevant that training should be given at all levels if there is to be competitiveness both locally and from foreign origins."
There will be change from year to year and a given situation will not be the same for long periods", he said.
As markets have changed we should constantly be alert for new avenues of trade and general improvement to sustain the industry.
He said the contribution of the tea industry would be more important in the future and it was important that plans be formulated now to meet the future challenges that are bound to occur as the industry moves forward.
Value addition was one area where he noted the tea industry had made good progress. In the early post independence this was done in the UK by firms such as Liptons and resold, with reduced benefits to Sri Lanka, the producer country, he said.
Produced by Lake House