The Teardrop of the Indian Ocean: Its Most Valuable Cash Crop

Topics: Tea, Sri Lanka, Tea production in Sri Lanka Pages: 12 (3324 words) Published: October 6, 2010
|THE TEARDROP OF THE INDIAN OCEAN: | | | |It’s Most Valuable Cash Crop | | | |8/20/2010 | | | |Caroline Antony |


Sri Lanka and tea have been synonymous with each other since the age of imperialism. Since then though, the tea industry has undergone major changes as it develops in response to adjustments in preferences by global consumers and as it struggles to maintain the quality of its tea exports in the face of aggressive promotion of cheaper, sub-par tea brands by foreign competitors. The country's tea brands have continued to exhibit a resilient hold on international markets by protecting the purity of their tea production and nurturing growth by discovering new export markets and eliminating trade barriers.

The cultivation of tea in Sri Lanka is a century old tradition that many of us natives of the nation have personally connected to in a variety of ways. So much of the country's geographic and demographic makeup has evolved around the prosperity of the tea trade and its perseverance has often been seen as a testament to the ingenuity and formidability of the Sri Lankan people. As early as 1873, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of The Hound of Baskervilles, stated, "…the tea fields of Ceylon are as true a monument to courage as is the lion at Waterloo” (Mlesna Teas). It marked an era of colonial control for the tiny island that eventually was able to liberate itself from its imperialistic rulers and over time, grow into one of the most advanced South Asian countries in the continent. Ceylon Tea is a time tested brand that continues to dominate world markets by incessantly clinging to the quality and value standards that the rest of the world has now come to associate with the Sri Lankan name. In enduring a civil war, countless trade restrictions, and ever more competition from much larger countries that are able to out produce Sri Lanka in bulk of production, the resilient Ceylon Tea has demonstrated that there will always remain a place for value added teas on the global market. Tea is the world's most preferred beverage, consisting of about 22% of the global beverage market and has proven itself to be a large contributor to the annual GDP of the island nation (Sri Lankan Products). For a nation heavily reliant upon export and trade, tea has become an essential part of the dynamics of the local and national economies. Much of southern Sri Lanka's population is indirectly or directly involved in the cultivation and production of the cash crop. It has come to shape the culture of the island as well as the trade practices implemented by the national government. Additionally, it is a main attraction for tourism in the area and strong efforts have been made to preserve the sanctity and viability of the tea trade. Economic reforms in the country have helped limit imports so that the country can gain some self-dependence and these also contributed to infrastructure changes that allowed industrial exports to become the greater exports earner. Despite the widespread nature of these reforms, Sri Lanka’s tea trade continues to be the leading agricultural export; dominating 65% of total agricultural exports (IMF,...

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