Sri Lanka June tea crop down 14 pct

July 23, 2009 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's tea production in June 2009 fell 14 percent to 23.6 million kilos compared with the same month in 2008 mainly because of sharp falls in teas grown in high and medium elevations, brokers said. In the six months to June 2009, the crop was down 23.8 percent to 130.5 million kilos from the same period in 2008, brokers John Keells said.

The crop was badly affected by a severe drought earlier this year and the lagged effects of last year's commodity price crash which led to the neglect of bushes and reduced subsequent crops.

Forbes & Walker Tea Brokers said the January-June production for 2009 is the lowest production on record for the first half since 1997 where the production for the first six month totalled 129.9 million kilos.

They said the biggest fall in production came from teas grown in the low grown areas, mainly by small farmers in the island's south.

Brokers Asia Siyaka Commodities said that with five of the six months in 2009 under performing against the previous year, Sri Lanka has lost 41 million kilos when compared with 2008.

"Excessive rain on the Western slopes (of the central hills) and low grown areas inhibited growth and in some instances did not permit

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