REUTERS: Sri Lanka’s tea output rose 20 percent in April compared to a year earlier after rains ended a six-month drought that had lasted to February, the state-run Tea Board said yesterday.Production in the first four months of the year edged up 1.8 percent compared to the same period last year.
Sri Lanka Tea Board Director General S.A. Siriwardena said rains were good in March and April, helping lift production.
Sri Lanka faced its worst drought in 40 years in the six months to February, hurting the island nation’s economy. Tea is Sri Lanka’s top agricultural export and a major foreign currency earner. Siriwardena said he expected the 2017 output to be more than 2016’s 292.36 million kilogrammes if the weather conditions continued to be favourable. In 2016, agriculture contracted 4.2 percent from 2015 when it had expanded 4.8 percent. Agriculture accounts for about 8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Sri Lanka’s tea output hit a seven-year low in 2016, falling 11.1 percent in its third straight year of declining production due to adverse weather. Tea export volume dropped to a 14-year low in 2016, broker data showed.
Export earnings fell 5.3 percent to US $ 1.26 billion in 2016 from US $ 1.33 billion in 2015. Sri Lanka recorded its highest earnings of US $ 1.63 billion in 2014. Russia was the largest importer of Sri Lankan tea in 2016, followed by Iran and Iraq.
Turkey dropped to fourth position in 2016 from second in 2015. Export volumes to other major buyers such as the United Arab Emirates, Libya, Syria and Kuwait fell last year, the broker report said.