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The Government last week said that the total losses to the tea industry amounted to a staggering Rs. 5 billion.

Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries, Laxman Wasantha Perera said that the damages were specifically to tea smallholdings in cases where factories were completely or partially destroyed owing to the disaster situation., thus far amounted to over Rs 5 billion.
Perera said that the loss pertaining to those which had been completely damaged had thus far come to Rs 4,000 million while those partially damaged had thus far come to Rs 900 million.

He said that according to information collected by officials, of the tea factories that have been thus affected, 14 have sustained partial damages.

The affected tea small holdings are from Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Katuwana, Ratnapura and Kalutara.

Tea small holdings belonging to over 5,000 persons have been completely destroyed while over 20,000 persons have had their tea small holdings damaged partially.

“Floods and landslides have been the reasons for the said situation. The information pertaining to the said damages has been obtained by the Ministry through regional and pradeshiya level superintendents,” he said.

According to Perera, it takes Rs 2.6 million to replant an acre of tea by preparing the ground and soil amongst others, in order to plant approximately 3,000 tea saplings per acre.

“Some that have gone under landslides cannot even be found. We are currently conducting the necessary and required computing of the actual damages. Tea has sustained the most damages, with massive damages in particular taking place in plantations and estates in the mountainous regions and hilly areas of the country. We are however also at present computing the situation with regard to rubber and coconut through the relevant institutes,” he explained.

Meanwhile, it is reported steps are expected to be taken by the Government to compensate owners of tea small holdings.

Elsewhere, Tea Commissioner – Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB), E.A. Jayantha K. Edirisinghe, Director General – SLTB, S. Anura Siriwardena and Chairman of the Tea Small Holdings Development Authority, Wijeratne Dewagedara were quoted as stating that the losses to over 10,000 acres faced by the industry would adversely impact cultivation, thereby causing a decline in both the production and supply.

However, according to Siriwardena, this would not affect the world market greatly.
Dewagedara further stated elsewhere that so far 850 incidents of complete losses and 9,789 incidents of partial losses had been recorded in a valuation that is expected to be completed within the coming two weeks.

Sri Lanka’s tea trade experienced a dip last year and even though things took a turn for the better when trade picked up early this year, this development has proved to be short lived as the inclement weather and the destruction it has since wrought has put to rest any immediate growth in the sector for the upcoming months.