- Requests tea industry to fund Rs.300mn tea replanting programme
- 15mn high-quality nursery plants to be issued to smallholders
The Ministry of Plantation Industries is to launch a fresh initiative with an investment of Rs.300 million to boost low replanting rates in Sri Lanka’s tea industry. Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayaka last week announced that the Rs.300 million programme will be launched with an aim to replant over 1000 hectares by the first half of 2020.
“I am directing a tripartite arrangement between Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB), Tea Small Holdings Development Authority (TSHDA) and Tea Research Institute (TRI).
“I appeal to exporters to either release these funds or obtain a loan from the promotion fund until we collect funds to set up a replanting fund,” he said.
The minister noted that 15 million high-quality nursery plants would be issued to smallholders at lower prices, which could be as low as Rs. 1 per plant.
Despite the industry targeting an annual replanting rate of 2 percent, he said the current replanting rate might have fallen below 0.5 percent.
Insufficient replanting rates could lead to dwindling tea yields in the country.
The tea smallholders are also in the process of replanting tea in 2, 000 hectares under the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) funded Smallholder Tea and Rubber Revitalization Project (STaRR) project.
Dissanayaka told Mirror Business that replanting in 500 hectares has already been completed.
However, he noted that it remains challenging for smallholders to get in line with replanting under the project as the loss of income during the period is not converged by the project.
Meanwhile, Plantation Industries Ministry officials said they remain concerned over some of the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs), which lag behind in fulfilling their social responsibilities, neglecting their assets and failing to make any worthwhile investments or improvements.