Tea industry hard hit by fuel shortage

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Tea leaf suppliers have taken measures to limit the transport of tea leaves due to the ongoing fuel crisis and being unable to find the required fuel, putting the lives of many tea pluckers and estate workers in jeopardy.

Due to the lack of diesel, tea leaf contractors who collect raw leaves seven days a week, have reduced  collection to three to four days per week, while tea factories have also reduced their collection, picking leaves throughout the week and providing raw leaves to tea factory workers has now become a twice or thrice weekly endeavour. Tea pluckers and collectors are in dire straits because they can only work on available days, a spokesman said.

They lament that small tea estate owners were the worst affected as a result of the fuel crisis, as well as the increase in price of green leaves and the strengthening of the small tea estate owners’ economy was absolutely essential, the spokesman added.

Small tea estate owners claim that they are compelled to use expensive chemical fertiliser, the fuel crisis as well as the increase in price of green leaves, has impacted them.

They claim that the harvest will be harmed as a result of the restriction on accepting raw leaves and the inability to pick broken leaves on scheduled dates. Small tea estate owners say that there is an urgent need to protect the tea industry without allowing the tea industry, which generates revenue for the country, to collapse due to the fuel crisis.

If the tea industry fails as a result of the fuel crisis, the country will face a significant risk of losing the dollars it currently receives, as well as the risk of job loss for a large number of people who rely on the tea industry.

“Small tea plantation owners urge the Government to prepare an immediate plan to provide fuel to people involved in the tea industry under the Government’s scheme to provide fuel for essential services and classify the tea industry as an essential service as it was a vital component of the economy, so, that fuel distribution for the tea industry will be taken into serious consideration. Meanwhile, they said if the fuel crisis persists, they will only be able to accept green leaves only on one or two days per week. As a result, we urge the Government to consider the tea industry as the country’s primary source of revenue and take steps to provide fuel to this vital sector,” they urged.

BY Athauda Pathirana – Urubokka