Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sri Lanka tea crop seen unlikely to match last year’s output

Sri Lanka’s tea production is unlikely to match last year’s levels given a continuing decline in crops owing to bad weather, a broker said.

August tea production fell eight percent to 23.9 million kilos from last year with the worst hit being the higher elevations, Asia Siyaka Commodities said.

Bad weather in September means crops are unlikely to match the September 2010 production of 25.5 million kilos.

“Based on the poor weather conditions experienced up country so far in September it looks unlikely that national production this year will match last year’s output,” the brokers said.

Even though tea crops in the first quarter were high, the subsequent drop in output has resulted in the cumulative total production to August dropping to 220.8 million kilos from 222.6 million kilos a year ago.

In August production of high grown teas - at high elevations on the eastern and western slopes of the central hills - fell 20 percent to 4.2 million kilos from a year ago.

“Mediums have declined 23 percent from 4.3 million kilos to 3.3 million kilos this year,” Asia Siyaka Commodities said in a report.

But production of low grown teas, cultivated mainly by small farmers in the south, has been maintained at a similar level to a year ago.

“The estates in the higher elevations have been hit hard by high wages, low crop and a weak market,” the brokers said.

“Continual overcast conditions and rain together with hot dry spells has restricted production from these elevations.

“This is the fifth consecutive month that Sri Lanka tea production has been lower than the previous year.”
The brokers said that a review of the main growing regions revealed that the high grown crop loss has come primarily from the eastern slopes.

“The main growing regions of Udapussellawa, Demodara, Hali Ella, Badulla, Madulsima and Malwatte have all reported lower production during the period January – August compared with a year ago,” the report said.

“In the mid grown areas on the eastern side, Namunukula and Passara, and Linugalla, and on the western slopes Kandy, Matale, Kurunegala and Madulkelle have recorded highest crop losses.” (LBO)

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