The growth of Sri Lanka’s tea industry depends on changing the system of training and education of youth involved in the tea plantation, exploring new foreign markets, producing high quality value added tea and also using modern technologies.State Minister Finance Eran Wickramaratne addressing the 28th AGM of Sri Lanka Tea Factory Owners Association in Colombo said. Sri Lanka Tea Board, Chairman Lucille Wijewardena was the guest of honour.
Minister Wickramaratne said that even Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe recently at a seminar, organized by the Tea Exporters Association highlighted that Government’s objective is to modernize the countrywide tea industry by increasing the productivity of workers who are involved in the industry and also extend fund facilities for both tea smallholders and large tea holder plantations.
He said in addition Government needs to encourage industrialists to start tea replanting and also grant many other facilities to modernize the industry with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank.Highlighting on the participation of women laborers’ in tea plantation, Minister Wickramaratne said in 2006 Sri Lanka had 46 per cent women in labour force and currently the situation has declined to 36 per cent.
“This is due to their education level which had gone up and as a result over ten percent female labour force had dropped in the estate sector,”The Minister also focused attention towards using weedicide in the tea cultivation and said the country should stop importing all kinds of illegal weedicides to the country. Sri Lanka Tea Factory Owners Chairman Harith Ranasinghe said their objective is to promote, foster and protect the country’s tea industry .
He said the country’s tea industry in the past has contributed immensely to the GDP and still continues to play a significant role. The Minister also highlighted that poor quality tea is made available in the local market and the import of teas from other origins and re exported as Ceylon Tea is also a matter of concern.