Sri Lanka remains the largest revenue earner for tea in the world, second to only China. Sri Lanka has achieved this feat through relentless pursuit, breaking global barriers, innovating and taking risks, chairman, Tea Exporters Association (TEA), Ganesh Deivanayagam said.
Deivanayagam was addressing the 24th AGM of Tea on Sept. 1, on which occasion he was re-elected chairman of the body for a second term. The event was held at the Grand Marquee, Taj Samudra Hotel, Colombo. Vimalendra Sharan, FAO Resident Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives was the Chief Guest on the occasion.
Deivanayagam added, “Sri Lanka specializes in unique tea blends, helping it excel in the marketplace. The average FOB price for Sri Lankan tea is US Dollars 5.10 per kg, compared to India’s $3.58 and Kenya’s $2.60. Sri Lanka’s tea blending, packaging, flavouring and value addition are significantly ahead of its competitors.”
Excerpts from a press release issued on the occasion. ‘Niraj De Mel, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board also shared his insights saying, “Our target is to touch at least 265 million kilos of tea production this year,” while emphasizing the need for sustainability amidst price fluctuations. He also referred to discussions held with Minister of Plantation Industries, Dr Ramesh Pathirana, with regard to increasing value addition, highlighting that Sri Lanka’s ability to produce a variety of teas, due to its diverse agro-climatic growing districts, could be more fully leveraged through value addition.
“Sri Lanka produces 3.9% of the global tea supply, with China and India being the other major producers,” De Mel continued, “However, we believe that more can be done with the variety of teas produced in Sri Lanka, particularly in terms of adding value and attracting new markets. Ceylon Tea is unique and we may not be leveraging that distinction sufficiently.”
‘Vimalendra Sharan, FAO Resident Representative in Sri Lanka emphasized the need to look after the welfare of tea smallholder farmers and other tea workers at the end of tea value chain. Globally, smallholder farmers produce more tea than the large plantation companies, he said, but climate change and its impact on the tea sector is also a concerning factor when it comes to sustainability of the industry.
‘Sharan added, “Ceylon Tea is niche, it’s not mass market, and that’s where Sri Lanka can capitalize, and add value not just to the product but to the lives of producers. Also, consumers are changing their views, and the trend towards healthy options, and ethical and sustainable production, especially in more sophisticated markets, where Ceylon Tea is prized, is growing. So, the industry must focus on these areas, along with digital enablement and marketing, which is crucial for survival in the future.”