(Colombo) REUTERS: Sri Lanka’s tea output rose 11.04 percent in May from a year earlier, aided by good agro-climatic conditions and lower production in the previous month, the state-run Tea Board said yesterday.
Production in the first five months of the year rose 4.76 percent from the same period last year. The tea output fell 15.3 percent in April from a year earlier, with the industry officials attributing the decline to a high base effect and more public holidays this year. “The May production is high due to several reasons, one is that the production in May is generally high and also this year we had good agro-climatic conditions and also the April production was very low,” Sri Lanka Tea Board Director General S.A. Siriwardena told Reuters.
Tea is Sri Lanka’s top agricultural export and one of the main foreign currency earners for the US $ 87 billion economy.
Earnings from tea for the first four months totalled US $ 478 million, up from US $ 458.2 million last year.
Sri Lanka’s tea output rose 5 percent to 307.1 million kg last year, recovering from a seven-year low of 292.6 million kg hit in 2016. The industry officials expect the production to reach 320 million kg in 2018 if the weather holds, but a ban on cost-effective weed killers, disruption to regular agricultural practices and the high cost of fertilisers could affect the outlook for production.
Tea production in 2017 was affected by severe droughts followed by flooding, poor application of fertilisers, a government ban on pesticides and restricted labour.