Sri Lanka tea output hits record high in 2010

January 22, 2011 (AFP) – Sri Lanka, one of the world’s biggest producers of black tea, reported Saturday that output hit a record high in 2010, helped by good weather. The total crop for 2010 grew by 13.1 percent to 329.4 million kilograms (72 4.7 million pounds) from 291.1 million kilograms a year earlier, according to the Sri Lanka Tea Board.

Tea is the island’s biggest commodity export earner.

The last time Sri Lanka harvested a record crop was in 2008 when it produced 318.7 million kilograms, the board’s director general H.D. Hemaratne said.

“The weather gods were good to us for the most part of last year,” Hemaratne told AFP.

He declined to forecast the 2011 harvest, which has been hit by heavy monsoon rains that fell on the main tea-growing areas in central Sri Lanka.

Production could also be curtailed this year by industrial unrest as a wage pact for nearly a million workers expires in April, commodity analysts say.

Wage talks, led by a clutch of unions, have in the past led to strikes, disrupting production. Tea export earnings from January to November last year jumped 16.7 percent to 1.2 billion dollars over the same period in 20