Sri Lanka’s tea crop falters in July

August 31, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tea output dipped 5.7 percent for the seven months to July but earned 50.89 million rupees by shipping the brew to overseas buyers over the same period last year, a commodity broker said.

Production of Kenya’s largest export crept up 2.9 million kilos to 23.7 million kilos in July, however, on a cumulative basis the crop figure falls short by nearly 30 million kilos as against numbers reported in 2005, the commodity broker said. The brew popularly known as Ceylon tea among overseas buyers, saw crop volumes dip to 185.96 million kilos as against 190.63 million kilos year-on-year.

“We are still short by about 4.67 million kilos from last year,” Asia Siyaka Commodity Brokers said Thursday explaining that a good rainfall last year brought in a record harvest.

 Sri Lanka Tea Production — 2006
Black Tea

July

Todate

2006

2005

%

2006

2005

%

High Grown

5,299,701 5,030,552 5.4 47,333,654 51,264,613 (7.7)
Mid Grown 4,142,971 4,048,487 2.3 32,403,888 34,065,130 (4.9)
Low Grown 14,026,740 15,797,964 (11.2) 106,220,638 105,299,557 0.9
Total 23,469,412 24,877,003 (5.7) 185,958,180 190,629,300 (2.5)

(Source: Asia Siyaka Commodity Brokers)

Sri Lanka, one of the top tea producers, grows tea in three elevations high, mid and low.

Falling tea crop was led by a 11.2 percent shortfall in low growns, which fell to 14.03 million kilos – the lowest since 2002.

Other elevations remained fairly constant, the report said adding that black tea production for July also slipped to 23.46 million kilos.

 Sri Lanka Tea Production Trends — 2006

Black tea (in mn kilos)

May -06

June -06

July -06

High Grown 8.32 6.90 5.30
Mid Grown 5.67 4.19 4.14
Low Grown 15.12 15.14 14.02
Total 29.11 26.23 23.46

(Source: Asia Siyaka Commodity Brokers)

Asia Siyaka forecasts the island’s year-end tea crop to be flat at 311 million kilos, based on second half production being the same as last year.

Tea, the island’s single largest net foreign exchange earner, contributed 814 million dollars towards the country’s economy last year.

The Indian Ocean Island has had a slight lead against its chief rival Kenya in the global race, as the African country recovers from a drought spell.