Fertilizer shortage to deprive Sri Lanka of e …

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(MENAFN – Colombo Gazette) Due to the shortage of suitable fertilizers, Sri Lanka is unlikely to be able to meet its 2021 export earnings target, according to the Ceylon Planters Association (PA), which also reiterated its calls for a lasting solution to the worsening crisis.

Earlier this year, the Export Development Board (EDB) set a target of $ 1.47 billion in tea export revenue for 2021, but the industry expects there to be a shortfall growing by around 30 to 40% by the end of 2021 and beyond, mainly due to the drop in harvest due to the unavailability of fertilizers, underlines the AP, which represents the Regional Plantation Companies ( RPC).

In total, in the first seven months of 2021 (through the end of July), Sri Lanka recorded export earnings of $ 766 million from tea, an increase of 9% over the same period of 2020. However, this increase was declining. low base, strongly influenced by improved weather conditions in 2021, compared to a severe drought that affected 2020 production. However, if we consider a more valid comparison with the corresponding period of 2019, the 2021 performance shows a reduction of 4%.

In addition to the target for 2021, Ceylon Tea will also not be able to meet its target of $ 1.8 billion in export revenue by 2025, unless a solution is found. according to the Planters’ Association.

“It is unfortunate that the export earnings generated by the tea industry, which has supported Sri Lanka for over a century, cannot contribute to its full potential at a time when the country desperately needs it.” , said the spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority. said Dr Roshan Rajadurai. “It’s an unnecessary opportunity cost for the industry and the country. Unfortunately, according to the analysis of credible experts, the worst is yet to come. Long-term reduction in the yield of tea plantations is inevitable, unless a solution can be found immediately.

The Association has previously warned that without the proper fertilizer to replenish nutrients in a timely manner, tea production will decrease by 25% within six months and up to 40% to 50% thereafter, as well. than the quality of the final product. . Since tea is a perennial (long-term) crop, the negative effects of insufficient nutrition will be felt throughout the economic life of the plant, which tends to be over 25 years.

Even before the blanket ban on fertilizers and agrochemicals, the government’s ban on the main herbicide used by the tea industry caused Ceylon tea to lose the lucrative Japanese market. Changes in fertilizers and agrochemicals also alter the properties of the end product that tea consumers associate with Ceylon tea, including a strong aroma and taste.

Sri Lankan tea plantations managed by the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) already have all the necessary safeguards in place to ensure the correct application of fertilizers and agrochemicals. This is demonstrated by the industry’s ability to meet the very strict standards of purchasing countries, including European countries, in terms of Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs), which refers to the highest level of a chemical residue. legally permitted in food and drink. The industry already adheres to “integrated farming” practices, therefore relying on natural methods as well as beyond agrochemicals, to repel pests, prevent disease and stop weed growth.

In addition, the plantations only use inputs approved by the Tea Research Institute (TRI) of Sri Lanka, which goes through a very rigorous testing and approval process to allow the use of agrochemicals for growing tea. Likewise, RPCs strictly adhere to the parameters recommended by TRI for fertilizer application. Sri Lanka is also by far the greenest and most certified tea industry in the world, with a plethora of international certifications.

Industry has pointed out that limiting fertilizers to organic inputs alone is impractical for tea production on a commercial scale, especially given the high cost involved. This is because a significantly larger amount of organic fertilizer has to be applied compared to chemical fertilizers and the application process also requires a much greater use of labor – which is both very expensive and insufficiently. available in Sri Lanka. Organic tea is a small emerging niche within the industry and would not provide sufficient scale to support the sector. (Colombo Diary)

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