Sri Lanka tea farmers oppose imports

Chandi Dharmaratne

May 17, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s large tea growers have opposed a proposal by major exporters to import teas for re-export to make the island a global hub for blending and packing to retail markets. The Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA), an industry body of large tea farms producing 30 percent of the tea said it and and the Federation of Tea Small Holder Societies, who produce the balance 70 percent, are “totally opposed to the importation of Orthodox Black Tea.”

Orthodox tea is made through a traditional process, originally developed by British tea farmers involving labour intensive batch processing.

In Africa where many British farmers fled after Sri Lanka expropriated their farms now produce tea under a flow process better known as crush tea curl, which is necessary to make ‘tea bags’ which foreign marketers have innovated to brew tea easily.

Some CTC teas are allowed in to produce tea bags but orthodox teas are not allowed in. Exporters who see major brands selling orthodox tea blending and retail packing in third countries wanted imports to come in.

Tea farmers and two export firms, Dilmah and Mabroc, two export firms are opposing the plan saying a ‘Ceylon Tea’ brand ma