Sri Lanka is to face two big setbacks in the export sector as tea output could fall 40 percent in 2022 and rubber could be wiped out by leaf disease.
Threatening livelihoods and export revenues, if a fertilizer agro-chemical ban suddenly imposed this year is continued, industry officials said.
“In 2022, all experts estimate that we will record a reduction in tea exports over 40 percent,” Bathiya Bulumulle, President of Sri Lanka’s Planters’ Association said at its annual general meeting.
“With an immediate halt to use of fertilizer of agro-chemicals, the consensus is that there will be severe crop losses, and as a result, a reduction in export revenues by as early as the end of this year.”
Sri Lanka has banned imports of fertilizer saying 300-400 million dollars were spent on it a year and those agro-chemicals caused non-communicable diseases. Sri Lanka’s central bank has been printing money, triggering forex shortages.
Sri Lanka exported 1.2 billion US dollars of tea in 2020 and 1.3 billion in 2019.
Rubber is also hit by diseases and is under threat without adequate fertilizer.“By the end of 2021, the industry expects an estimated 20 percent Year-on-Year reduction in output from rubber plantations due to this disease,” Bulumulle, said.
A leaf disease (Pestalotiopsis ) is spreading in the plantations. Already about 20,000 hectares are affected.Rubber plantation experts have said it has reached an epidemic level.