Sri Lanka Tea Board looks to double replanting subsidy
ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka Tea Board is considering doubling a government subsidy for replanting tea bushes as part of efforts to increase production of black tea, the island’s main agricultural export.
“We propose to increase the subsidy, which is half a million rupees a hectare now, to one million rupees a hectare and to give whatever other incentives for tea farmers to increase replanting and infilling of vacancies,” Tea Board chairman Lucille Wijewardena said.
The money, to be given to both corporate regional plantations companies and small farmers, it to encourage them to replant aging tea bushes and also fill in vacant plots on estates where plants had died or had been pulled out.
Wijewardena said negotiations are being carried out with the Treasury to get more funds to increase the replanting subsidy in the near future.
“You need 10,000-13,000 plants per hectare. But now we have got only 5,000 plants per hectare.
Over the years plants die for various reasons.
“It is all about funding. Capital cost is too high, about two and a half million rupees per hectare. Also, the tea prices are good, so they (farmers) don’t want to take the bush out,” he said.
Due to high capital costs there was a slow-down in cultivation in recent times.
The quality of the green tea and the yield deteriorates with time and plants die for various reasons like drought, floods and pests.
Replanting and infilling should take place to ensure that the premium quality of Sri Lankan tea remains the same.