Sri Lanka tea region fuel wood shortfall ‘acute’, prices up: estate

July 25, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tea growing areas in the hill country is suffering from an ‘acute’ supply shortfall of fuel wood and prices are going up, a plantation company which is expanding its own timber cropping area has said. “With the acute shortage and rapidly increasing prices of fuel-wood in the hill country ¦the plantation sector is obligated to plant as much timber as possible for use as fuel-wood in the production process,” Horana Plantations chief executive Rajiv Casie Chitty told shareholders.

“In order to optimise our success in this sustainable process, the Company hopes to suitably modify the timber harvesting procedures in estates to facilitate the harvest and transport of timber.”

Fuel wood is used to heat air in tea dryers. Wood uses has increased with prices of diesel and furnace oil going up.

The cost of wood fired drying is about 8.00 rupees per kilogram of tea compared to 20 rupees for diesel. The price of wood however had moved up to about 1,600 rupees per cubic meter now from about 1,000 rupees over two years ago, an industry official said.

The firm said it was implementing a forestry management plan approve by Sri Lanka’s ministry of plantation industries.

“Furthermore, the th