Sri Lanka ships, plucks less tea in April

Chandi Dharmaratne

May 24, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka, one of the world™s biggest tea exporters, produced and shipped less of the brew for the four months to April this year, due to poor weather and unrest in key markets, official figures showed. Tea, which grows across the island™s central hillside regions and in the south, saw output fall four-percent to 104 million kilos from January to April this year, over the same period 2011, the Tea Board said Thursday.

Farm output for April eased down two-percent to 29.3 million kilos, over the same month last year, the board said.

This year™s (April) crop figure is the lowest since 2008, Asia Siyaka Commodities Limited said in a note to clients on Thursday.

High growns were the worst hit with production down 12 percent from 8.2 million kilos in 2011 to 7.2 million kilos this year.

Mediums were up nine-percent year-on-year, while low growns maintained their previous levels, the commodity broker said.

Botanically known as Camellia sinenis, tea is Sri Lanka™s single largest foreign exchange earner, besides clothing exports, remittances and tourism.

The island™s green gold, which is sold overseas under its colonial name Pure Ceylon Tea is made with tender