Tea export earnings fell for the fifth consecutive month and tea production for the seventh consecutive month to last month (May), scarred by the decision to ban chemical fertiliser imports last year, though subsequently lifted, but too late to undo the damage already done.
However, tea export prices which were falling Year-on-Year (YoY) since June 2021, reversed this trend last month, by increasing YoY, data released by Forbes & Walker Tea Brokers on Wednesday (15 June) showed.
Subsequently, tea export earnings last month declined by 15.50 per cent (US$ 17.30 million) YoY to US$ 94.27 million (fob), Forbes statistics showed. Complementing this, tea export volumes fell by 17.09 per cent (4.07 million kg) YoY to 19.72 million kg last month. However, the silver lining was that the price of tea increased by 1.92 per cent (US$ 0.09) to US$ 4.78 a kg (fob), YoY, last month.
Nonetheless, tea export earnings in the first five months of the year (2022) declined by 14.03 per cent (US$ 74.53 million) to US$ 456,717,686 (fob) YoY and export volumes down by 7.52 per cent (8.27 million kg) to 101.72 million kg. In a further blow, average tea prices in the first five months of the year fell by 7.04 per cent (US$ 0.34) to US$ 4.49 per kg, YoY.
Meanwhile, tea production in April, decreased by 23.71 per cent (7.12 million kg) to 22.91 million kgYoY and by 31.09 per cent (7.12 million kg) to 22.91 million kg in the first four months of the year, YoY, data showed. Due to the chemical fertiliser import ban, tea production has been falling since November 2021. Tea, according to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, was the island’s third largest foreign exchange earner last year.
According to Forbes,Iraq has emerged as the No. 1 major importer of Sri Lanka Tea, with an increase of 66 per cent YoY in January-April 2022, Russia second with a total of 7.36 million kg, YoY, a 10 per cent fall, UAE third with a total of 7.2 million kg, followed by Turkey, Iran, and Azerbaijan with average imports of four million kgeach during the period January-April 2022.
By Paneetha Ameresekere