Veteran tea plantation manager Herman Gunaratne said it appeared that the organised tea sector was rapidly declining in Sri Lanka.
“The crops are declining. Factories are shutting down. Whether or not the tea industry in Sri Lanka will return to its former grandeur… is a question for the Government,” Gunaratne said.
Gunaratne made these comments at the official launch of a new book, “Generation T: Addicted” at Casa Colombo on Tuesday. The book, co-authored by Juliet Coombe and Daisy Perry, is an insightful read on one of Sri Lanka’s largest exports. It details everything from where to buy the best tea and cake, to tea factory tours, to interviews and anecdotes from tea planters.
While the journalists and assorted spectators gathered and sipped their sweet plain tea, Perry and Coombe spoke with passion about their latest literary effort. They spoke of the health benefits of tea and the hassle in getting the books released from the Port (apparently the President himself had to intervene to ensure there were books available to distribute at the launch).
Jetwing Chairman Hiran Cooray, who was also present at the launch, said the tea industry had grown to become of of Sri Lanka’s major employment generators- providing at least one million jobs directly. He added that Colombo was the host of the oldest, and largest tea auction, moving between 20 and 25 billion kilograms in 2 days alone.
Gunaratne’s comments on the state of the industry were met by a somewhat embarassed silence. Yet his viewpoint cannot be discounted- Gunaratne being the owner of a large tea estate, Handunugoda.
Meanwhile, Coombe and Perry’s book is available at most Colombo bookstores, priced at Rs. 4000.