Over Rs 2 Bn to boost SME tea plantation | Daily News

Over Rs 2 Bn to boost SME tea plantation

Founding Chairman of ASMET, M. C. M. Zarook receives a token of appreciation from Minister
Founding Chairman of ASMET, M. C. M. Zarook receives a token of appreciation from Minister

The Government has distributed over Rs. 2 billion to tea smallholder growers recently to increase their tea production, Minister of Plantations, Dr.Ramesh Pathirana said. He said that this was done through the SME Tea factories.

Dr. Pathirana who was the Chief Guest at the 17th annual general meeting of the Association of Small and Medium Exports of Tea (ASMET) said that there is a huge decrease in tea supply resulting in dip in production. “One reason for this was the ‘2021 fertilizer issue’ which was a discouraging factor for new plantations to take off.”

He observed that the prices of the global urea and chemical fertilizer market is dropping and this would be an encouragement for the industry. The Minister said that he observed a low productivity and ‘slowness’ of replantation by Regional Plantation companies and this also contributes negatively towards tea production. He also identified lack of productivity as another main issue. An acre of tea in Sri Lanka yields around 350 KG per acre while in Kenya this is around 450 KG and even in India it’s over 400 KG.

“We are working with Tea Research Institute to correct this while another 1,000 nursery program is ongoing to supply plans for new cultivations and also to fill ‘vacancies” Dr. Pathirana said that today green leaf suppliers are getting a good price of Rs. 340 plus for a kilo while this was around Rs. 90 three years ago. The Minister said that the Sri Lanka tea industry must try to reach its best annual tea production figure of 340 million kg which was achieved in 2013.

“Currently this is around 300 kg and I think we should be better by 2023.”

He said to reduce undue competition the government discouraged the issue of approvals to open new tea factories’ and only 3 were opened in the last three years. He also complimented tea exporters for bringing direct USD revenue to Sri Lanka which is around USD 4 billion from a total of around USD 13 billion.

Chairman Sri Lana Tea Board Niraj De Mel said that the ASMET should look for new marketers in hidden territories especially in Europe and Far East. He said that promotions made toward increasing tea sales to the USA is not adequate at all and exporters should do more to promote this market.

He also said the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Iran had indicated that the Sri Lankan tea prices to Iran were too expensive against the competitors. New President of ASMET, Isuru Samarasinghe said that though they contribute 6.5% of total tea production and accounts to 7% of total tea revenue they are not represented at forums where key decisions are taken.

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