Tea industry stakeholders have now come under one banner to come up with a 10- year Master Plan.
This includes the Colombo Tea Traders Association (CTTA) , the Planters’ Association (PAC), Tea Factory Owners’ Association and representatives from Tea Small Holders and others, who have now teamed up to come up with ‘Tea strategy- Road Map 2030’, new Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board Jayampathy Molligoda told Daily News Finance.
“Presently, Sri Lankan tea industry was facing many challenges and is at crossroads and that was why we are coming up with this Master Plan, the new Tea Board Chairman said in what was his maiden media interview.
Molligoda, also a Fellow Member of CA Sri Lanka (FCA) and a MBA Holder and a former Deputy Chairman of Bogawanthalawa Tea Estates PLC in a career spanning 28 years, said the Master Plan was being drawn up –‘focusing on the entire tea value chain’ from the growers- with benefits to community, preserving the environment, generating profits on a sustainable basis. In addition, the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Export Agriculture was also drawing up a five- year plan. Both are working simultaneously, he said.
“I think the following three aspects need to be properly analyzed and factored in our future policy shaping and implementing such policies and programs; (a) the realities of the global tea market trends (b) capabilities of our competitors (c) rapid modernization and technological interventions without compromising the traditional practices.
In other words, we are to look at tea as a beverage in the global market, worth US$ 38 billion as compared with our narrow perception of tea industry as a perennial crop, generating only US $ 1,450 million per year.
Ceylon Tea will eventually stagnate or decline at these levels if the industry was not aligned with the global changes taking place, he said.
The current issues pertaining to tea plantations do not warrant Sri Lanka to continue those plantations in the same traditional phase. Instead, my view is ‘high quality plantations’ can only be promoted. It is a pity that we still talk about going back to basics- need to practice ‘Total Quality Management’ (TQM).
Molligoda has also briefed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently that his priority was to put in place a system to improve the green leaf quality count.
Let us follow it to the letter and spirit and this was only the beginning- we have a long way to go in this ‘TQM’ on bush to cup. I am happy the newly appointed Cabinet Minister and State Minister too have understood these sector issues and challenges well, he said.