SJB claims tea smallholders in crisis

Friday, 15 September 2023 00:50 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

 SJB MP Sujith Sanjaya Perera


  • Says tea industry has no hopes of revival under current President 
  • Claims tea smallholders are failing to secure a good price for their produce 
  • Stresses they are facing challenges as a result of escalating costs of electricity, fuel, and crude oil
  • Warns industry may disappear from SL due to high rate of non-replantation in current crisis 

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Sujith Sanjaya Perera addressing a press conference yesterday claimed the nation's tea industry has suffered a complete collapse with no prospects for revival under the leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe. 

“Despite the provision of fertilisers, small-scale tea growers in the country have struggled to access them adequately. They have faced challenges in obtaining high-quality fertilisers and there appears to be a lack of oversight or authority to address these issues,” he alleged. 

“The Ministry of Plantations, Sri Lanka Standards Institution, and the Consumer Affairs Authority appear to be failing in their responsibility to investigate substandard fertilisers. This has created an environment where several companies are taking advantage of tea smallholders,” he noted. 

The MP pointed out that despite the government's assertion of purchasing one kilo of tea for Rs. 200, tea growers are encountering difficulties in selling their produce even at Rs. 150 per kilo, all while contending with increasing production costs. 

“Small tea farmers originally purchased the fertiliser bundle for Rs. 2,500 rupees, but the current market price has surged to a range between Rs. 1,500 and 12,000 rupees. Despite the Government's claim of Rs. 8,000, it appears that there is no fertiliser available at that price point,” he noted. 

Perera said the owners of tea factories are also facing challenges as a result of the escalating costs of electricity, fuel, and crude oil. According to him, these rising expenses have had a cascading effect, leading to small tea plantation owners receiving lower prices for their tea leaves.

“The lack of replanting in the tea industry, which has historically been a significant source of foreign exchange, poses a long-term threat, potentially leading to the gradual disappearance of the industry from Sri Lanka,” he warned.