Fuel crisis hits Southern tea factory owners

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Tea factory owners in the Southern Province lament that the fuel crisis has caused untold hardship for them, including power outages.

They also said this situation has resulted in a significant increase in production costs and various issues in production. Diesel is required to run generators in tea factories and this has become a major obstacle.

According to tea factory owners, this situation has hampered the production of high-quality tea. Furthermore, the tea factory owners claim that the output of the tea factories has decreased due to a decrease in the supply of green tea leaves.

They said the fuel crisis has caused many problems for firewood suppliers too. They added that the local tea industry is under threat from rising freight costs, packaged liquid tea prices, and other inputs.

Anura Athukorala, Chairman of Athukorala Group (Pvt) Ltd, which operates in the South, said green tea leaves are reasonably priced.

“In April, I paid Rs 238 per kilo for raw tea leaves, and the price of raw tea leaves will rise even further. However, due to the fertiliser issue, our raw tea leaves decreased. Shipping costs have risen dramatically. Container fees have risen. Ship arrivals have also decreased. Thus, we were unable to export tea by the deadline. Buyers have shifted to other tea-producing countries as a result. Fertilisers were used by countries such as India to increase tea production. It does not matter if the price of leaves rises, other input prices have also risen,” Athukorala said.

By Kamal Wijehewa – Galle