July 7, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) say that they have maintained adequate replanting rates in the tea and rubber estates and increased crop production despite having only 59 percent of the workers and 82 percent of the crop bearing extent compared with the time of privatization in 1992.
“The ‘Indenture of Lease’ which RPCs signed when they took on management of plantations did not stipulate a mandatory replanting quantam per annum,” a statement said.
The statement also reads, in fact a replanting clause is not a condition as mentioned in the lease contract signed by the government of Sri Lanka and the RPCs in 1992.
“A three percent replanting rate was a suggestion as result of a discussion with the Tea Research Institute, RPCs and the Golden Share Holders in 2012 at which TRI was not confident and admitted so, that given the current costs and expected returns, a replanting exercise was not economical and has no justification as an economic investment activity,”
“Notwithstanding limitations, constraints and difficulties over the years, RPCs have replanted their required extent very judiciously according to the estate and situation specific requirements of each individual estate and company.”
RPCs manage not only tea plantations but rubber and oil palm.
Pointing out statistics, RPCs say they have planted 48,086 hectares of rubber which is 98 percent of the total existing rubber extent of both immature and mature rubber, in the last 12 years from 2000.
Furthermore, close to 20,000 hectares of commercial fuel wood has been planted apart from 7,000 hectare of oil palm along with additional large hectarage of cinnamon, coconut, coffee, fruit, dendro thermal trees, community forestry plots, ornamental trees, valuable timber and other useful tree crops.
RPC’s says the crisis related to the industry is one that originates from low prices at the auctions with the same ratio of tea price ratio versus daily labour wages, maintained as at 1992.
However RPC’s have increased crop production in 2014 by 12 percent in comparison with 1992, clearly demonstrating greater efficiency and commitment to best practices including good agricultural policy on the part of the RPCs.