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Author Topic: Sri Lankan tea should regain its lost No. 1 slot as the world’s best  (Read 1557 times)
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« on: September 06, 2010, 02:48:49 AM »

Sri Lankan tea should regain its lost No. 1 slot as the world’s best - Mahinda Samarasinghe
by Steve A. Morrell
September 4 2010

Ceylon Tea is no more the world product leader. Our task is to see that it gets back its prestige as being the best in the world. It was at the top. But now others have pushed us back. Our job is to ensure we are back on top , says Plantation Industries Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe.

Addressing a well attended audience of Planters and Regional Plantation Company top management personnel as the chief guest at the Ceylon Planters’ Society (CPS) Annual General Meeting in Colombo on Friday, he noted that the Sri Lanka crop, now languishing at around 310 million kilos annually, has to move up.

The target year for crop realization of approximately 350 million kilos is mapped for 2016. By that time tea should earn about 5 billion dollars in foreign exchange earnings annually.

The Minister also expressed disappointment that some Plantation Companies had not paid their lease payments . These Companies had also not declared dividends. But, they exacted their management fees. With minus quotient such as that described, he said the Treasury refused to assist the sector because of their non – performance. There would not arise possibilities that the Plantation sector would again be taken over by the Government.

‘The Government does not have the commercial acumen to manage businesses. But, there could always be possibilities for joint ventures. He conceded the private sector being the engine of growth had to have support but they had to establish credibility to establish an image of commitment and sincerity in what they do.

President, CPS, Sanjay Dissanayake in his review said production levels were sustained by the Small holder sector . He also conceded that although crop levels had dropped 9.1 %, satisfactory prices continued to buoy the industry. He also made the point it was time new planting be undertaken to ensure production levels are parallel with other Tea producing countries.

He had salutary remarks for rubber and coconut but cautioned continuous investment was essential for the progress of these two crops. He also proposed 100,000 acres of new rubber in Moneragala.

Reverting to Dissanayake’s review, he said tea replanting should be increased to 3 % of each estate’s extent each year. Infusion of new capital was necessary for such realization.

Minister Samarasinghe’s remarks also included areas for reply to Dissanayake’s review. One such was the extent for proposed new rubber; he said he did not know from where this figure of 100,000 acres originated, but the reality was they had just managed to ensure new planting of only 5000 acres. "There was much work to be done".

Cost of Production for Tea, Minister Samarasinghe said, was high. – in fact the highest in the world. To be competitive, it was essential production should move up. He also proposed innovative ideas the private sector could work on. One being Tea houses in major Tea buying countries for instance, Egypt, a market we lost, North Africa, and if we were to also move into the US market we would need to project the health properties of Tea . Additionally he said marketing for tea to China as well should be considered positively.

It should not be glossed over that Sri Lanka could in future be the Global Tea hub, he stressed. We were there. There is no reason why we could not resume that position again".

Source: TheIsland.lk http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=5984
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