The Sri Lanka Tea Board said today that the detection of an insect which led to the temporary ban of Ceylon Tea imports into Russia may have been an isolated incident, and that Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake would visit Russia to clear the situation.
This Thursday, the Russian Federation banned tea imports from Sri Lanka, to take into effect from, due to the detection of a single specimen of the agricultural pest, the beetle Trogoderma granarium in the packaging material of a consignment of tea shipped from Sri Lanka.
“We believe the present case is an isolated incident that is, in any case, not a reflection on the quality of Ceylon Tea,” the Sri Lanka Tea Board said in a statement.
It noted that the beetle is a pest of grain crops such as rice, and has never been associated with tea.
“The Sri Lanka Tea Board is of the view that the specimen discovered in the packaging material may have remained in the shipping container concerned following the use of this container for the transport of grain on a previous occasion, not necessarily of Sri Lankan origin,” the statement said.
The Sri Lanka Tea Board said that nevertheless, it is anxious to protect the standards and quality for which Ceylon Tea is renowned worldwide and is working with tea producers and exporters to ensure that phytosanitary and other standards are rigorously followed in all shipments of tea originating in Sri Lanka.
The state institution assured that the Russian authorities have made it explicitly clear that the ban is of a temporary nature and would last only until the completion of negotiations and clarification of the situation with the competent authority of Sri Lanka.
“Accordingly, the Minister of Plantation Industries, Navin Dissanayake, will visit Russia as soon as the necessary logistical arrangements are made and work with his Russian counterparts to resolve this problem,” the Sri Lanka Tea Board said.
It added that it, along with the Ministry of Plantation Industries wasworking very closely with all the relevant agencies of government, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Commerce to restore normal trade between the two countries as soon as possible.
Russia was the second largest tea market for Sri Lanka in 2016 after Iran. Russia imported US$ 143 million worth of Ceylon Tea, which was 11.3 percent of Sri Lanka’s tea exports.