Moves to set up an Export Marketing Council for the tea industry is underway that will take over Tea Board promotions and include officials from the Export Development Board, the Board of Investment and the new Tourism Bureau.
The proposed council will take over all promotional work currently carried out by the Tea Board, working hand in hand with the new Tea Association being set up.
According to plans, the new council will also take over the existing overseas tea bureaus, with cess funds allocated for overseas promotions being routed to the council.
About US$ 400,000 a year is channeled from an industry cess for the Bureaus promotional activities, sources say.
The move is part of ongoing efforts to restructure the Tea Board, leaving it as a regulatory body for the industry.
But Tea Board officials are protesting against the move as well as an attempt to hand over quality testing of teas to a private sector agency.
” We believe that the Tea Board as a neutral body can conduct quality testing and promotion of Ceylon tea in a more equitable way, one official said.
A draft paper on the setting up of the proposed council has already gone up for Cabinet approval, Ministry officials said.
The Tea Board however is forging ahead with a campaign to promote the health effects of tea, value adding its image rather than promoting it simply as a beverage as is done.
A conference on the health benefits of tea will be kicked off at the end of October, targeted mainly at local medical professionals.
The conference will review existing research on the health benefits of tea, while exploring avenues for research collaboration.
The campaign will be extended to school level next year, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, Ronnie de Mel said.