(Colombo) REUTERS: Sri Lanka’s tea output fell 7.3 percent in July from a year earlier, the state-run Tea Board said yesterday and the brokers attributed the fall to adverse weather conditions.
“There was excessive rain and overcast conditions, specially at higher elevations, resulting in lower high-grown crop due to excess rain. Other areas were also hit by adverse weather,” Anil Cooke of brokers Forbes & Walker said.
“But now excess rain conditions are easing and we expect a better crop in the rest of the year.”
The production in the first seven months has risen 0.2 percent from the same period last year. 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 exports for the first five months rose 1.6 percent to US $ 599.3 million, compared with the same period 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 production to reach 320 million kg this year if the weather holds but a ban on cost-effective weed-killers, disruption of regular agricultural practices and the high cost of fertilisers could affect the outlook for production.
Tea production in 2017 was affected by severe drought followed by flooding and poor application of fertilisers, while a government ban on pesticides and restricted labour added to the sector’s woes.