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Sun, 26 April 2015 03:14:25
Sri Lanka tea exports fall sharply in April
06 Jun, 2009 05:59:26
June 06, 2009 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's shipments of tea, its main commodity export, fell sharply in April compared with a year ago, as production was hit by severe drought earlier in the year, brokers said.
Tea exports fell 44 percent to 14.5 million kilos in April 2009 from 26.1 million kilos in the same month in 2008.

"This is the lowest quantity since 2005, when 14.8 million kilos were shipped," brokers Asia Siyaka Commodities said.

"The April export volume is a reflection of the poor quantities produced and sold during the first quarter, as a result of dry weather in all growing districts."

The average quantity for April is around 20 million kilos but in 2008 a record 26 million kilos were shipped.

Earnings too have dropped - down 39 percent to 6.8 billion rupees in April 2009 from 11.2 billion rupees a year ago.

"On a positive note the approximate average FOB (free on board) price per kilo is 468.30 rupees," Asia Siyaka Commodities said.

"This is a record for any month in the history of the tea trade."

In US dollars the average price converts to about 3.99 dollars, just one US cent below the April 2008 figure.

Forbes & Walker Tea Brokers said tea in bulk has shown a "significant" decline of around 6.8 million kilos from a year ago while tea in packets too fell by around 2.8 million kilos.

Tea in bags, however, show a marginal gain compared to the corresponding period, they said.

Total exports for the January-April 2009 period were 81.7 million kilos, a shortfall of 23.35 million kilos when compared to the 105.09 million kilos shipped during the same period of 2008.

"This could be attributed mainly due to the drop in production during the first quarter of 2009 where a deficit of 33.8 million kilos was recorded year-on-year," Forbes & Walker Tea Brokers said.

Russia and other former Soviet states and the Middle East were the main buyers of Sri Lankan tea.

Asia Siyaka said Sri Lanka earned 34.4 billion rupees from tea exports up to April 2009, down 19 percent from the same 2008 period.

In US dollar terms exports earnings were down even more - 27 percent to 300 million dollars compared with the same period last year.

But a positive aspect of this year’s tea export performance is the high level of value addition during the period January-April 2009, Asia Siyaka Commodite said.

During these four months value added exports have been around 45 percent of the total while last year it was 41 percent.

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