Record tea production thanks to government subsidy
Monday, 13 January 2014 00:05
Basil says President ready to meet any challenge
As a result of the subsidies the Government introduced for tea and other crops tea production rose to 339 million kilograms in 2013 compared to 328 million kilo grams in 2012. The increased tea production has earned the country Rs. 1.6 billion, according to Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa.
He said this at a tea small holders’ meeting held at the Morawak Korale Tea Producers Cooperative Society Hall, Kotapola on 11 January in connection with the commencement of the island-wide program to provide Rs. 5,000 per acre for soil and water conservation in tea small holdings in the Matara District to empower tea small holders under the 2014 budget. Nearly 2000 persons representing 387 small holders societies in the district participated in this meeting held under the direction of Plantations Industries Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe.
Minister Rajapaksa pointed out that tea small holders contributed to 70% of the island’s tea production and added the Government had given much assistance to ensure a sustainable development of tea small holdings. This has led to a high demand for Sri Lanka tea worldwide resulting in the price of tea going up to Rs. 90 per kilo.
The extent of the country’s tea plantations is 206104 hectares of which 70% are small holdings which are cultivated by 397223 small holders who produce 1.5 million kilos of tea. Sri Lanka’s tea consumption per person per year is 1.3 kilo grams. The small holdings are spread over 14 districts including Ratnapura, Matara and Galle.
According to Minister Rajapaksa the Government has given a subsidy of Rs. 350,000 per hectare and Rs. 250,000 per re-cultivated hectare. The fertiliser subsidy is Rs. 25 per tea plant. A fertiliser bag of 50 kilograms priced Rs. 3,500 is sold to small holders at the subsidised price of Rs. 1,500 per bag. Even when the price of a kilo of tea leaves dropped to Rs. 25 the Government did not reduce subsidies, he further said.
Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said the Government’s revenue through tea industry is three times more than the cess tax. On the issue of the United Nations Human Rights Council in March, he said that the Government had to face allegations because it had defeated Tiger terrorism. However, the Minister stressed that the President was ready to meet any challenge to defend the motherland’s independence and sovereignty.
On the issue of the United Nations Human Rights Council sessions in March, he said that the Government had to face allegations because it had defeated Tiger terrorism. However, the Minister stressed that the President was ready to meet any challenge to defend the motherland’s independence and sovereignty.
Among those who attended the meeting were Home Affairs and Public Administration Deputy Minister Wijaya Dahanayake, Matara District Secretary E.A.C. Widanagamarachchi, Tea Small Holdings Development Authority’s Regional Manager D.D. Bandula, Matara Tea Small Holdings Development Society representative Bertie Ranaweera, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and Plantations Deputy Minister Earl Gunasekera.
Pix by Thusitha Chandakumara