Loss-making plantation companies to be handed over to tea smallholders as pilot project

Sep 09, 2020 (LBO) – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa emphasized that the tea industry which has suffered a severe setback should be revived based on a holistic approach.

Experts in the field pointed out that long, medium, and short –term plans should be implemented after scrutinizing loss-making estates in order to increase tea exportation and its revenue.

President said the objective should be to reclaim the status enjoyed by Ceylon Tea in the global market in the past while identifying the factors contributing to the downfall of the industry.

President made these remarks during a meeting to discuss future activities of the State Ministry of Company Establishment Reforms, Tea Estate Crops, Tea Factory Modernization, and Tea Export Diversification held at the Presidential Secretariat recently.

10 out of the 20 major plantation companies are inoperative. It was revealed that the production capacity of plantation companies has been declining rapidly in an environment where the small tea estates achieve higher production.

The President instructed the officials to identify causes for losses and inactivity of these companies within a short period of time and to provide permanent solutions for these issues. It was decided to hand over loss-making plantations companies to the tea smallholders as a pilot project.

‘Losses at plantation companies should be thoroughly investigated in a context of where the infrastructure facilities including roads, hospitals, schools, and sanitation have been provided by the government’, said the Head of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival, Basil Rajapaksa. During this meeting, the need to rehabilitate tea estates and regularize cultivation to produce higher yields was discussed in detail.

Basil Rajapaksa pointed out the need to provide reliefs to tea growers to engage in self-employment or other livelihoods until the tea plants reach the yielding stage.

Experts believe that the setback in the tea industry is caused due to ignorance of the findings made by researches in the field. They highlighted the requirement of prioritizing research developments and pursuing new markets for the product. Attention was also paid to the possibility of expanding the Bio tea industry and securing a better profit from its high demand in the world market.

President Rajapaksa emphasized the importance of strengthening the plantation management and supervision.

Representatives from the small tea estate sector commended the President for his wise decisions taken during the curfew period under COVID 19 pandemic which protected nearly 421,000 small tea estate owners across the country.

Minister Ramesh Pathirana, State Minister Kanaka Herath, Head of the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival, Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President, P.B. Jayasundera, Secretaries of the Cabinets and State Ministries, Officials of the Line institutes, representatives from the tea estate owners and planters were present at the discussion.