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Sri Lanka tea farmers demand govt support

Nov 26, 2008 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's tea small holders are pressing for government support to save the industry from ruin after demand dropped and prices crashed at auctions in Colombo.
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Chandrasena Wijesinghe, convenor of the Joint Federation of Tea Small Holders, told reporters they will organise protests if the government does not step in with financial support to help small farmers.

"The industry has collapsed and small holders have lost their means of income," he told a news conference Wednesday.

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He said prices paid by private tea factory owners to small farmers supplying the green leaf to make black tea had fallen below their production costs.

Many farmers in the southern tea growing districts had given up plucking as the prices fetched by their green leaf were no longer remunerative.

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He said small holders were demanding the government use funds from a cess collected from tea exports to support small holders.

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Small holders mainly in the southern areas produce over 70 percent of the tea grown in the island.

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The crisis started in October

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