The tea industry is facing tough times as the required chemicals are unavailable or too high priced just as competing markets attempt at changing buyer perception regarding the Sri Lankan situation.
Planters Association Spokesman Dr. Roshan Rajadurai told the Business Times that despite the lifting of the ban on the use of glyphosate on the plantations there is still nothing made available in the market for application.
He noted that they seem to coming against one road block after another as they have noted that after the lifting of the ban on the use of Glyphosate they have found that now there is another gazette that needs to be amended to allow for its importation.
Dr. Rajadurai explained that manual weeding is only adding to the problems on the estates as this would create the ground conditions for weed seeds to germinate.
Moreover, the requirement of fertiliser is another concern among the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) as the cost of these chemicals is exorbitant. As a result, he noted that they were currently purchasing fertiliser only in limited quantities for application on the plants.
He pointed out that the cost of production that was at Rs.650 per kilo has now surged to Rs.1000 as fertiliser prices had increased from Rs.30 per kilo to the current price range of Rs.220-250 per kilo.
Moreover, the cost of fuel, firewood and electricity has increased three to four-fold and continues to add to the tough conditions under which they are compelled to carry out production. And despite the RPCs continuing to look after the welfare of their workers bad publicity on the current Sri Lankan situation is implied to mean that even workers on the estates are starving.
However, this is not true, Dr. Rajadurai said adding that this is a cause for concern as no one on the plantations go hungry since the welfare of the workers are being looked into by the RPCs.
In fact he noted that despite the drop in production wages of workers continue to be paid in full according to the current regulations.
Dr. Rajadurai also pointed out that rubber prices are also being affected with prices continuing to slide from Rs.1100 to Rs.600 due to the pesta disease.
He noted that the industry is concerned how they can continue at this rate and are looking at a year of recession under the current conditions.