Sri Lanka tea production in 2021 up 9.3% despite fertilizer crisis – minister

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ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s tea production in 2021 rose 9.3% to 305 million kilograms from a year ago despite a fertilizer crisis, Plantations Minister Ramesh Pathirana said.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa banned chemical fertilizers overnight from April last year, citing they are harmful to public health.

The tea industry feared a loss of production due to the lack of chemical fertilizers as well as a change in taste and other characteristics of Ceylon tea, which is popular worldwide.

“The tea industry in particular is showing signs of improvement. Tea production in 2020 is 279 million kg. But despite the fertilizer crisis, we produced 305 million kilos of tea last year,” Minister Pathirana said in a statement.

“Applying too much chemical fertilizer doesn’t pay much. Fertilizers have clearly been misused in our country. In order to achieve a very high yield, organic fertilizers should be applied together with chemical fertilizers.

He said “the current difficult season will end in the next six months” and urged people to be patient until then.

Last year’s production growth is also accompanied by repeated protests by plantation workers over daily wages and changed workloads.

“The government will implement several special programs in the future to promote tea cultivation,” he said.

The minister said that only less than 50% of the 1.5 billion rupees allocated for a project to supply water for cultivation has been spent, while a loan program from the World Bank will provide 20 million US dollars for the development of tea cultivation.

“We will provide this money to the people through public and private banks,” Pathirana said.

“In addition, facilities will be made available for anyone wishing to grow tea. Tea plants and compost fertilizers are provided free of charge.

Tea is Sri Lanka’s top agricultural export and generated around $1.1 billion in revenue in the first 10 months of 2021, according to central bank data. (Colombo/January 22, 2022)

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