July tea output down 7.3%

July tea output down 7.3%

Reuters: Sri Lanka’s tea output fell 7.3% in July from a year earlier, the State-run Tea Board said on Monday, and brokers attributed the fall to adverse weather conditions.

“There was excessive rain and overcast conditions, especially 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.”

Production in the first seven months has risen 0.2% from the same period last year.

Tea is Sri Lanka’s top agricultural export and one of the main foreign currency earners for the $87 billion economy.

Earnings from tea exports for the first five months rose 1.6% to $599.3 million, compared with the same period last year.

Sri Lanka’s tea output rose 5% to 307.1 million kg last year, recovering from a seven-year low of 292.6 million kg hit in 2016.

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.

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