Introduction of Tea Industry in Sri Lanka

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1. Introduction of tea industry :

* Historical Background:

Tea was introduced to Sri Lanka after coffee was destroyed by Coffee Leaf Rust in the 19th century. James Taylor, a Scottish planter, established the first commercial tea plantation in 1867 at Loolkandura Estate in Kandy District of Sri Lanka. The great success of tea planting attracted English planters and more plantations were established, replacing existed coffee fields. Subsequently, as the coffee area was not big enough to meet the demand for tea cultivation, the area expanded further into the hill country, finally into the Uva basin and the country soon became a leading tea producer.

By the 1960s the total tea production and exports exceeded 200,000 metric tons (220,462 short tons) and 200,000 hectares (772 sq mi), and by 1965 Sri Lanka became the world's largest tea exporter for the first time. In 1963 the production and exports of Instant Teas was introduced, and in 1966 the first International Tea Convention was held to commemorate 100 years of the tea industry in Sri Lanka. During 1971–1972, the government of Sri Lanka nationalized the tea estates owned by the British companies. The state took over some 502 privately owned tea, rubber and coconut estates, and in 1975 it nationalized the Rupee and Sterling companies. Land reform in Sri Lanka meant that no cultivator was allowed to own more than 50 acres (202,343 m2) for any purpose. In 1976 the Sri Lanka Tea Board was founded as were other bodies, such as the Janatha Estate Development Board (JEDB), Sri Lanka State Plantation Corporation (SLSPC) and the Tea Small Holding Development Authority (TSHDA) to supervise the state's acquired estates. It was in 1976 that the export of tea bags also commenced.

In 1980 Sri Lanka became the official supplier of tea at the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic Games, in 1982 at the 12th Commonwealth Games in Brisbane and again in 1987 at Expo 88 in Australia. In 1981, the import of teas for blending and re-exports was introduced and in 1982 the production and export of green tea commenced in Sri Lanka. In 1992 the 125th anniversary of the industry was celebrated in an international convention in Colombo. On December 21, 1992 the Export Duty and Ad Valorem Tax were abolished and the Tea Research Board was established to further research into tea production. In 1992-1993 many of the government-owned tea estates which had been nationalized in the early 1970s were privatized again. Heavy losses to the industry had been incurred under state management, and the government made the decision to return its plantations to private management with the sale of its 23 state-owned plantations.

By 1996, Sri Lanka's tea production had exceeded 250,000 metric tons (275,578 short tons), growing to over 300,000 metric tons (330,693 short tons) by the year 2000. In 2001 the first on-line sales of tea commenced, sold by Forbes & Walker Ltd., at the Colombo Tea Auctions. A Tea Museum was established in Kandy and in 2002 the Tea Association of Sri Lanka was formed. According to the minister of plantation industries, Lakshman Kiriella, the Tea Association of Sri Lanka is "intended to transform the 135-year-old industry into a truly global force and facilitate a greater private sector role in strategy formulation, and implementation, and plantation industries". The association, which works with those that preceded it in Sri Lanka, represents tea producers, traders, exporters, smallholders, private factory owners and brokers, and is funded largely through Asian Development Bank.

* Overview of tea industry in srilanka:

Tea is serious business in Sri Lanka. Formerly a British colony known as Ceylon, this small Indian Ocean island is famed for producing the finest black tea in the world, grown and produced according to uncompromising, traditional methods and standards. Since the 1880s, Ceylon tea has been the country’s principal and most famous export; for generations, it...
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