Sep 17, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tea industry, which has a long history starting from British period, now needs to adopt professional managerial skills and build elite clone tea to face current challenges and to drive future growth, the chairman of the Planters’ Association said.
The industry is currently in a crisis situation with historic lowest tea prices while employees demand better wages. Economists say the current rupee depreciation will help to boost exports.
“The Planters who are generally acknowledged to have sound management and administrative skills along with a wide range of leadership, people management and other competencies must now focus on being even more professional in keeping with the modern competitive business environment,” Roshan Rajadurai, chairman of the Planters’ Association said at the annual general meeting held recently.
“They should sharpen their professional competencies by using innovative technology to sustain productivity growth and unique product quality offering a unique selling proposition in relation to Ceylon Tea.”
Sri Lanka’s Tea exports, continued to decline in June 2015 for the eleventh consecutive month, due to lower demand from main tea buyers such as Russia and the Middle East, as well as the unit price with the lowest export price of US dollars 4.39 per kg of tea being recorded since September 2012.
Tea exports recorded a drop of 20.1 percent in June this year.
Official data shows Sri Lanka exported 121.9 million US dollar worth tea in June 2015 compared to the 152.6 million US dollar tea exports in the same month last year.
Rajadurai said maintaining higher standards is a key element for the future growth.
“The social and environmental responsibility concerns and conformation to a myriad number of international standards and certifications whilst being closely scrutinized by the NGOs, INGOs and other pressure groups are an additional challenge that we have to contend with, in this extremely competitive and customer driven environment,” Rajadurai said.
“There is a huge disparity between the price paid to the producer and the price the consumer pays for our product in the Global Retail Markets,”
“Just as much as our predecessors overtime tenaciously and with an indomitable will faced the challenges and the hardships courageously and overcame them, I am sure the present generation of Planters too, would leave their indelible mark on the industry with their total commitment, high level of competency and dedication to the work ethic which is required to lead hundreds of people on a daily basis under their charge.”
He added that the way forward for tea industry is to develop superior planting materials by identifying elite clones with the help of the Research Institutes.
“This is to change the inherent plant architecture where required to increase productivity, improve quality and to adopt to mechanization, fine tuning harvesting machines to suit Sri Lankan conditions with emphasis on quality of the Tea Leaf and the longevity of the Tea Bush,”
“Also it will help to develop appropriate planting models to aid mechanization of Field Work from the re-planting stage itself and incentivizing re-planting and quality oriented manufacturing initiatives.”