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Sat, 25 April 2015 10:52:37
Sri Lanka tea seen threatened by climate change
09 Sep, 2011 07:55:36
Sept 09, 2011 (LBO) - Climate change brought about by global warming could threaten the famed quality of Sri Lanka's tea, the island's main agriculture export and its best known brand, a new report said.
"The impact of climate change seems to be drastically altering weather patterns, not only in Sri Lanka, but throughout the world," John Keells brokers said in a report.

"We have seen floods and severe droughts which has caused extensive damage to agricultural outputs in many countries including Sri Lanka."

"The monsoons in Sri Lanka can no longer be predicted accurately, and the two quality seasons we enjoy have not brought about good seasonal quality, for a few years," John Keells said.

The brokers said the rise in temperature has given way to much hotter weather conditions.

"The warmer weather, Sri Lanka has experienced this year at higher elevations could be a significant factor for the increase in tea production from these elevations, despite an overall drop in Sri Lanka's tea crop," they said in a report.

"It has perhaps also constrained the level of quality, and the high quality of 'Ceylon Tea' appears to be under threat."

John Keells said it is believed that rising temperatures over the next couple of decades will have serious consequences on Sri Lanka’s dry zone agriculture.

"This thinking is shared by many countries, where climate change will have an impact on most agricultural crops including tea production with suitable lands being pushed into higher elevations."

The brokers noted that in Kenya climate change is expected to drastically affect tea production over the next 40 years.

At a recent tea convention in Mombasa, a presentation on the effects of climate change demonstrated that by the year 2050, nearly all of the tea growing areas west of the Rift Valley will be unsuitable for tea growing, they said.

This represents nearly 60 percent of the tea production in Kenya, including the popular Kericho district.

John Keells also noted that with climate change, the United Kingdom has started growing tea in parts of the country where the weather has turned warmer.

"In the long term, this could pose a threat to the large volume of tea that is imported into the UK annually," they said.

The first tea plantation in Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall, South West of England which is the country's warmest region was established in 1999.

It made its first harvest in 2005 and since then production has continued to improve with a record harvest of over 10 tons expected this year, John Keells said.

"Could this be the beginning of a shift in the global tea cultivation map?" the brokers asked.
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1. Nirmalan Dhas Sep 11
Apart from changes in weather patterns, we are now experiencing changes in the dynamics of weather related phenomena themselves. Rainfall is beginning to increase in volume with the duration of rain showers decreasing leading to larger volumes of precipitate within shorter timeframes.

These intense showers have in many instances caused crop damage and damage to landscapes in many geo locations and seem likely to lead to more and more topsoil being washed away. This loss of nutrients will have an impact on future crop production.

Topsoil washed away by these increasingly volatile cloudbursts can in turn cause silting of streams, rivers and waterways that may then breach their banks causing flooding. Some waterways could change their course as well.

It is essential that the impact that this topsoil can have on dams be assessed and responded to with the utmost urgency before possible negative effects begin to manifest affecting amongst other factors, the generation of hydro power.

These and other impacts of climate change as well as the responses that they demand have a measurable economic impact that cannot be avoided. The repair and regeneration of damaged ecosystems demands a time frame that can in certain instances span decades or centuries.

Someone at some time will have to meet the cost of damage containment and repair. To what extent such containment and repair will constitute an effective response to phenomena that are likely to recur with increasing frequency must also be assessed.

Ultimately a systemic response will become necessary and the sooner such a response is formulated and initiated the greater will be the chances of achieving an effective equilibrium over the medium to long term.

The formulation of such a systemic response will have to examine the impact of plantations on ecosystems and whether these plantations are sustainable within the current context of changing weather patterns and dynamics.

We will have to examine the question as to whether within the context of a Global Program for Environmental Repair, Regeneration and Development aimed at reversing the increasing imbalance we are creating within the composition of Earths atmosphere giving rise to climate volatility and posing a threat to the human species as well as life on the planet in general, our tea plantations can play a positive role or whether it would better serve us to reconfigure and redeploy their landscapes as watersheds and reservoirs of biodiversity that play a significant role in the sequestering of carbon and the re adjustment of the composition of Earths atmosphere.