Tea exports pass US$ 1b landmark
The tea export trade has recorded a landmark achievement, by
exceeding the US $ 1 billion value barrier in 2007 for the first time in
its 140 year history.
A plucker in Hatton. Picture by Shirajiv Sirimane
Chairman Sri Lanka Tea Board Lalith Hettiarachchi said, the value of
tea exports in 2007 recorded a 22 per cent increase over the 2006 figure
by advancing from Rs. 91.7 billion to Rs. 112 billion which is a
The Chairman Colombo Tea Tradersí Association T. Akbarally said the
annual crop for 2007 declined by only 2 per cent and this outstanding
performance was achieved, notwithstanding the most challenging
circumstances the tea industry faced during the year such as crippling
work stoppages by the plantation labour unions, over wage issues at the
beginning of the year coinciding with severe drought conditions that
further impaired production.
The annual production in 2007 decreased from 310.8 million kgs in
2006 to 304.6 million kgs.
He said despite the significant increase in the value of tea exports,
the volume of tea exports in harmony with the crop loss, has recorded an
even greater reduction of almost 5.5 per cent from 327.4 million kgs to
309.8 million kgs.
However, it is noteworthy to mention that the value of each kg of tea
exported increased on average, by 29%, he said.
Hettiarachchi said the future challenge of the industry is to increase
the export of value added tea from 35% to 65% because the bulk tea gets
a low price and value added tea gets a higher price.
He pointed out that the budget proposal submitted last year to set up
an export fund to help tea exporters did not get attention but there is
a strong case for the Treasury to consider the incentives as they get
only a marginal Rs. 30 to 40 million from their own cess which is not
The total extent of tea in Sri Lanka stands at 221,000 ha in 14
administrative districts and it has created more than 1.2 million direct
and indirect employment.
It is the only 100 per cent import inputs free micro commercial agri
business in the country which earns 13 per cent of export income and 60
per cent of total agricultural exports.