Sri Lanka tea industry to fully recover next year, says minister

Tea leaves

(Photo by Rashid on Unsplash)

Sri Lanka’s tea production is expected to fully recover next year after last year’s drop, the country’s Environment Minister Naseer Ahamed said.

The tea industry, a key foreign exchange earner, saw its output decline by 16 percent to 251.5 million kilogrammes in 2022.

“The production has dropped because of the fertilizer issue. It will recover by next year,” Naseer told Bernama in New Delhi.

He was in India to attend an environment summit organised by the Energy and Resources Institute, a not-for-profit organisation.

The previous Sri Lankan government of Gotabaya Rajapaksa had banned the use of agrochemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides in its “organic” agriculture experiment in April 2021.

It led to a significant drop in crop yields, forcing the government to revoke the move in November that year.

Fuel, food and fertilizers were among the key essential goods that were in short supply as Sri Lanka was hit by its worst economic crisis in 2022.

Naseer said the fertilizer issue is now “permanently resolved” as the country is again using agrochemicals.

He said tea production will “definitely” reach its normal levels next year.

Sri Lanka earned about US$1.3 billion from 250.19 million kg tea exports last year, according to the Tea Exporters Association.

The country also aims to grow its tea export competitiveness and earnings.

“We will have more value-added products. In another two years, the value of exports will be much more,” Naseer said.

(Source: Bernama)