Minister Amaraweera Signs Agreement With Unilever To Protect Sri Lanka Tea's Sustainable Name In World Market

Shakila Ifham

March 27, 2024


Plantation companies have limited afforestation for firewood requirement in the tea industry, nearly 65 percent of tea producing companies still do not have a permanent reforestation programme. “Still they procure firewood from outside parties,” said Agriculture and Plantation Industry Minister Mahinda Amaraweera. He said that in this regard a national framework to overcome the problem was handed over to him.The Ministry of Agriculture and Plantation Industries signed a memorandum of understanding with Unilever Pvt. Ltd., to implement a joint program to protect Sri Lankan tea’s sustainable name in the international market.Minister Amaraweera said that all the countries of the world have expressed their support to the international agreement to implement the Net Zero Emission target.“Sri Lanka has also signed it. Therefore, we should reduce the use of firewood for drying tea in our country as well as implement alternatives to prevent forest damage,” the Minister said.

The minister also said that the program, which is being implemented with the cooperation of public and private sector as well as public sector for the advancement of tea cultivation in Sri Lanka, will be able to maintain the quality and standard of tea produced in the country.

He said to protect the name of Ceylon Tea, the production of rejected teas should be brought down as much as possible. He also said that B-60 policy implemented for that purpose has been made mandatory and if the policy is not implemented, it is the responsibility of the Ceylon Tea Board to revoke the licenses issued to the relevant companies.

At least 60 percent of the harvested tea leaf should be maintained in high quality by the respective tea factories. The minister also mentioned that if this is not done, the international demand for Sri Lankan tea will decline and eventually this industry may collapse.

The signing of the MoU under the name of Public-Private-People’s Partnership Program for the Sustainable Plantation Sector was done at the Ministry of Plantation Industries.

The primary objectives of signing this MoU are to strengthen the tea industry in Sri Lanka and to produce tea under accepted standards for the international market.

To maintain the tea industry as an environmentally friendly cultivation, the report on the national framework for sustainable biomass cultivation and source certification for the Sri Lankan tea industry prepared by the Wanaropa DeVots Institute, which operates under the auspices of the Ethical Tea Partnership organization, was also handed over on this occasion.

Especially for drying of tea, 560,000 tonnes of firewood is required per year and for that 1.5 million trees have to be cut down each year. Because of this, obtaining firewood in a manner that does not cause environmental damage in tea production and implementing alternatives to it have been introduced through this national framework.