Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Tea crops up in May amidst  production decline in the first five months    

June 14, Colombo (LNW): Tea production in May saw an uptick, but the first five months’ crop sustained an overall decline, highlighting ongoing challenges within the industry, including weather variability and other factors on cultivation, especially dwindling of plantations owing to illegal encroachments.  . 

Sri Lanka tea plantation sector is facing an alarming issue of illegal encroachments of estates managed by the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) by unknown gangs with the backing of politicians in respective areas, several planters and residents complained. 

The extent of plantation land has been shrinking since RPCs took over its management in 1995 due to either land encroachments, subleasing or selling lands lots illegally.       

According to official data, 94.521 hectares leased out to 20 RPCs in 1995, have dwindled to a level of less than 72.000 ha after 28 years

An expert panel appointed by the Sri Lankan government is reviewing lease agreements with Regional Plantation Companies (RPC), Minister of Estate Infrastructure Development Jeevan Thondaman said.

The tea export sector cannot grow beyond the available tea crop volume in Sri Lanka. The declining trend in the tea crop has restricted the growth in tea export volume and value. The tea production issue also affects the growth of Sri Lankan tea brands and also the processing of Global Tea Brands by Sri Lankan companies..

Asia Siyaka Commodities Plc said tea production in May increased to 24.54 million kilos, up 14% compared to April 2024. 

However, despite this monthly rise, the overall production for May 2024 declined by 8.5% compared to the same period last year, indicating a broader trend of reduced tea yields. 

The breakdown by elevation categories in May has shown a decrease in comparison with the corresponding month of 2023. 

“The high-grown tea crop saw the sharpest decline of 18.6% year-on-year (YoY) to 5.88 million kilos, whilst medium-grown production experienced a decline of 8.9% YoY decrease to 4.4 million kilos.

 The low-grown crop saw a marginal decline of 3.4% YoY to 14.26 million kilos, relatively better compared to the other two elevation categories,” it added.

 Asia Siyaka also said that January-May 2024 cumulative production totalled 104.37 million kilos registering a decrease of 6.5% YoY compared to 111.57 million kilos in the same period a year earlier.

Compared to the corresponding period in 2023, all elevations have shown negative variances in the year 2024.

 “Low-grown at 62.6 million kilos was down by 6% YoY with a loss of 3.7 million kilos. High-grown trail the previous year with production of 23.5 million kilos following very hot and dry conditions during the first quarter and excessive rain in May.

Mediums have declined to a lesser extent,” it added. The crop fluctuations underscore the need for adaptive strategies among tea growers and stakeholders to mitigate risks and sustain productivity in the face of changing climatic condition

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