Ceylon Tea is estimated to hit a crop loss of about 25 per cent by the end of this year as a result of a myriad of issues resulting in the drop in production amidst new state policy to cultivate uncultivated lands including Regional Plantation Companies’ (RPCs)-held properties.
“Slow but sure and steady reduction in production is expected if the current circumstances continue with a 20-25 per cent crop loss estimated by the end of the year,” Planters Association Spokesman Dr. Roshan Rajadurai told the Business Times.
Tea production in the past few months has seen a reduction with the January to April 2022 crop totaling 86,232 metric tonnes (MT). Last year the crop for the year stood at 299,338 MT, higher than the previous year’s production of 278,489 MT.
Dr. Rajadurai queried how they could possibly find workers to engage in this type of food production when the existing younger generation is not interested in working on the plantations.
Moreover, he pointed out that although there is an influx of people coming back to their residences in the plantations due to lack of work in the cities, they are not inclined to engage in agricultural activities.
Dr. Rajadurai explained that although they remain supportive of the government initiative to carry out production of other crops, practically their experience has been that most young people are not interested even if they are assured of work. “Do you think they will come?” he queried.
This has been a repeated request from previous governments in the past as well, he noted, adding that although they were able to identify unused cultivable lands, “there were no takers”.
However, plantation companies have already been asking workers to engage in cultivation of other crops and this was also highlighted at a meeting with Plantation Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana this week where it was discussed to open up uncultivated lands available on the RPCs to the workers or outsiders to engage in alternate crop production. The RPCs are said to have reacted positively to the government policy that is being implemented in a bid to ensure the plantations could assure food security for its people.
But it was noted that in the absence of the required fertiliser and fungicides there is crucial problem in engaging in agriculture to cultivate even other crops.
The plantations are already burdened with the existing electricity shortage and fuel shortage causing disruptions to the work flow.