Regional Plantation Companies (RPC) are not re investing as much as private tea smallholders, Minister of Plantation Industries Navin Dissanayake told the 125th AGM of the Colombo Tea Traders Association (CTTA).
He said the RPC’s should do more replanting and also look into introducing more scientific methods towards the tea industry. The Minister said that this had resulted in 73% of tea exports been done by tea smallholders. The government has supported them and during the last few years, we have invested over Rs 3 billion towards them.
The Minister said that looking back at the last 4 years, he had mixed feelings about the industry and its performance and also the role played by him. “The plantation industry faced several issues starting from glyphosate fertilizer ban, Russian and Japan tea ban, palm oil industry and wage issues, adulterated tea issues and also geoglobal issues. I’m not saying that I was successful in finding solutions to all of these as most of them were politically motivated, while some environmental issues too had been added to these problems.”
‘’I must also say that there was a Cabinet decision to encourage the growing of palm trees and the plantation companies responded by opening nurseries by investing over Rs 500 million.
However, this decision taken by the previous government has now been reversed blocking the growth of the planned oil industry and I still could not get that overturned.”
The Minister further said that he was not happy in the manner in which research has been done in rubber, tea and coconut plantation sectors by the 3 Government Research Institutes. The government funding which is around Rs. 50 million for these three institutes, is also not adequate. The government should provide more benefits for exporters and egg them on, said former Chairman, Colombo Tea Traders Association Michael De Soysa, who was the Guest of Honour.
He said that in India and many other countries exporters are given huge benefits. “However, back in Sri Lanka, they are not been fully supported by the government. Sri Lankan exporters even had to pay taxes.”
He also said that the CESS collected by the industries’ stakeholders in the Tea Industry, should be more aggressively used for promotions.