By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The hole in Sri Lanka’s tea cup further widened in the month of September with the production figures plunging to a 15-year low.
The Sri Lanka Tea Board has confirmed the September 2016 tea production at 19.8 Mnkg, down 27 percent over the previous year’s figure of 27.2 Mnkg. In unit terms, the production for the said month dropped significantly by 7.4 Mnkg compared to the corresponding period last year.
The dip is the second steepest decline recorded this year since March, which had a deficit production of 8.3 Mnkg. Going back, the September figure was a record 29 Mnkg in 2014, 25 Mnkg in 2013 and 27 Mnkg in 2012.
The low grown teas that declined from 155 Mnkg to 136.1 this year, have contributed to 56 percent of the quantity loss for the month.
According to Asia Siyaka, the high grown tea production of 3.9 Mnkg in September 2016 is the lowest since the El-Nino year of 1992, where the number stood at 3.5 Mnkg.
While the mid grown September tea figure of 2.9 Mnkg is 27 percent lower than the 2015 quantity of 4 Mnkg, the current year’s quantity is also the lowest since 1992, where a figure of 2.6 Mnkg was recorded.
It is said that the largest crop loss year-on-year (YoY) in September has come from the low country teas, which declined 17.3 Mnkg to 12.9 Mnkg this year, a loss of 4.4 Mnkg (25 percent).
The production for the nine-month period ending September 2016 at 218.6 Mnkg is down a sharp 13.6 percent on the previous year’s figure of 252.9 Mnkg.
The cumulative loss for the first nine months of the year has risen to 34.3 Mnkg.
The industry stakeholders note that the poor cropping conditions currently experienced do not leave much room for optimism with regard to better crop prospects for October.
With dampened production continuing throughout, the industry players opined Sri Lanka is unlikely to achieve the 2015 October figure with production likely to be blow 20 Mnkg.