Lankan tea growers urged to ‘go slow’

Colombo, October 29:

Sri Lanka’s tea industry, the world’s third largest, has been asked to “go slow” till the global financial crisis becomes manageable.

Sri Lanka Tea Board chairman Lalith Hettiarachchi said although the tea industry here has in the past 10 months already exceeded last year’s income level of a little over one billion dollars, it has started facing the impact of global market jolts.

“We have advised estate owners, producers and green leaf suppliers to cut down on production as much as possible, so that the volume going to the market can be reduced. This would create a situation where prices could go up,” Hettiarachchi said.

The Russian Federation and the Middle East, the main buyers of Sri Lankan tea, have shown “reluctance in buying our tea, especially the low-grown tea”, he said. “Nearly 60 per cent of the tea was left unsold at an auction last week. It is a serious situation,” he said, adding market brokers were unwilling to advance money for tea small-holders.