- Average speed among winners of 18 kg per hour
- Winning speed of 19.4 kg per hour
- First prize winners receive Rs. 40,000 cash prize, family trip to India
Talawakelle Tea Estates (TTEL) made history after the company emerged as overall winners at the inaugural Hayleys Plantations Best Tea Plucker Competition 2020.
TTEL’s victory was sealed by the Bearwell Estate Tea Harvester Palaniselvi who plucked an incredible 9.7 kg of prime tea in just 30 minutes – amounting to a harvesting rate of 19.4 kg per hour (kg/h) – and topping the judges’ rankings with a score of 88.63%.
Celebrating her outstanding efforts, Hayleys Plantations will be providing Palaniselvi and four of her family members with an all-expenses paid tour to India as well as an immediate cash-prize of Rs. 40,000 over and above the title of Best Tea Plucker at TTEL and across the Hayleys Plantations group for 2020.
“I am so happy to have won the competition and I want to thank our managers, Roshan Rajadurai and Hayleys for giving us extra training on how to improve our harvesting and the chance to take part. My family and friends have been supporting me and giving encouragement throughout and we are all extremely excited to take our first ever flight and trip to India,” Palaniselvi said.
The preliminary stages of the Hayleys Plantations Best Tea Plucker Competition were held across the three companies – TTEL, Kelani Valley Plantations PLC (KVPL) and Horana Plantations PLC – which comprise the Hayleys Plantations sector.
In addition to the winners of the overall contest, company-level winners were also presented with similar awards, with first prize winners also being provided with a family trip to India and cash prizes, while second place winners were allowed to pick any location in Sri Lanka for an all-expense paid family trip and third place winners were presented with trophies and valuable vouchers for retail items worth Rs. 20,000.
Rounding out the winners list of TTEL were Silver and Bronze winners M. Pushpalatha for Somerset Estate and A. Iresha Rajalekchumi for Great Western Estate. Meanwhile, KVPL Gold winner Kamaleshwari for Robgill Estate harvested 16.84 kg/h to receive a score of 82.48%. KVPL’s Silver and Bronze Awards were won by K. Praba of Ingestre Estate and M. Vellapoobathy of Fordyce Estate.
From Horana Plantations, S. Benedict Mary of Bambarakale Estate was the Gold winner with a score of 80.58% and a harvesting rate of 8.45 kg/h, while N. Renuka of Alton Estate and Anandakumari of Gaouravilla Estate secured Silver and Gold Awards respectively.
The uppermost management of the Hayleys Group were in attendance for the finals and awards presentation of the Best Tea Plucker contest, including Hayleys Chairman and Chief Executive Mohan Pandithage, Hayleys Group Executive Director Sarath Ganegoda, and Hayleys Group Head – Human Resources, Legal, Corporate Communications and Sustainability and Group Security Darshi Talpahewa together with Hayleys Plantations Managing Director Dr. Roshan Rajadurai, TTEL Director/CEO Dilantha Senevirathne, KVPL Director/CEO Anura Weerakoon, Horana Plantations Director/CEO Manuja Kariyapperuma, and the Directors and Corporate Management team of Hayleys Plantations Sector.
Over recent months, the division and estate level competitions were hosted by all three companies in order to establish a ranking of the organisation’s best and fastest harvesters. The final round of the contest was thereafter hosted at the Somerset Estate in Radella.
Following an intense round of harvesting for over 30 minutes, all of the company’s employees gathered in a carnival-like atmosphere for the announcement of the winners at the historic Dimbula Athletic and Cricket Club.
“Ultimately, what sets all of the companies within the Hayleys Plantation sector apart is our people and I consider it a privilege and an honour to lead such an incredible group of dedicated and committed individuals. It is no secret that the Sri Lankan tea industry has been faced with what many consider to be insurmountable challenges.
“However all of us at Hayleys Plantations believe that with willpower, and dedication, we can adapt, and overcome any difficulty. We can see this quite clearly in the performance of all of our winners today, who plucked what is considered a high estate norm of 18 kg in just one hour.
“This firm belief is what has led to the development of HR and employee wellbeing policies that are now considered as undisputed global best practices, in addition to the pioneering of strategies – including revenue sharing, mechanisation and crop diversification – which undoubtedly will be fundamental to the continuing prosperity of Sri Lankan tea for centuries to come,” Dr. Roshan Rajadurai asserted.
Taking its lead from the one-off national Best Tea Plucker Competition organised by the Sri Lanka Tea Board in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Ceylon Tea, Hayleys Plantations carried forward the competition for its own employees based on the strong positive responses from its employees and the winning performances of its Hayleys Plantations harvesters at the national contest in 2018.
Each contestant’s harvest was measured and evaluated by an expert panel of Tea Research Institute (TRI) scientists after being weighed on the real-time digital weighing scales system developed and introduced by Hayleys Plantations. Harvests were then ranked based on the quantity and quality of each harvest as well as the condition of maintenance on tea bushes after the harvests were completed.