Sri Lanka’s biggest export commodity Tea has been hit hard by former President Gotabaya Rajapakasa’s overnight blow below the belt of the plantation sector with stupid green agriculture strategy without a proper plan.
Before the country’s economic crisis, tea exports accounted for $1.3 billion annually. But now, it has dropped to its lowest level in 23 years.
The tea industry suffered from the government’s decision to ban chemical fertilisers in May 2021. Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had imposed a total ban on chemical fertiliser and agrochemicals, in a bid to make Sri Lankan farming 100 per cent organic.
The sudden ban hit growers hard, with production falling to 148.05 Mn Kgs for the seven month period this year although the ban was lifted by October 2021 following backlash from the industry.
But farmers were unable to access imported fertilisers as the country simultaneously ran out of foreign exchange.
The tea exports for the month of July saw a decrease of 7.8 Mn Kgs when compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
The exports of Ceylon Tea for July totalled 22.76 Mn Kgs, where all the main categories showed a negative variance compared to July 2021.
The cumulative analysis of the January to July 2022 period showed that the exports totalled 148.05 Mn Kgs for the seven months.
Here again a decrease of 14.47 MnKgs is observed when compared with the 162.52 MnKgs exported in the corresponding period in 2021.
Iraq has remained as the major importer of Ceylon Tea, with an increase of 35 percent in imports year-on-year (YoY) for January-July 2022.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) secured the second position, with a total of 12.77 MnKgs, a 5 percent increase against the total imports recorded for January-July 2021.
Russia sits in the third place, with a total of 12.34 MnKgs, followed by Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and Libya for the January-July 2022.
A significant decrease in imports is reported from Russia (22 percent), Turkey (58 percent), China (21 percent), Syria (26 percent) and Jordon (20 percent) YoY.
Meanwhile, a notable increase in imports is recorded from Azerbaijan (6 percent), Libya (8 percent), the USA (8 percent), Saudi Arabia (7 percent), Germany (20 percent) and Poland (16 percent) YoY, as expanding markets for Ceylon Tea.