By the time COVID-19 hit, Sri Lanka’s tea production and export earnings had already been on a declining trend. The adverse weather conditions and long-term structural issues such as labour shortages and lack of technological application have affected production levels over time. With the first wave of the pandemic, the vulnerabilities of the tea sector were exposed. Now, Sri Lanka and most of the main tea buyers are experiencing a second wave which can have far reaching negative consequences than previously anticipated. This blog discusses the impacts of COVID-19 on Sri Lanka’s tea industry and the different mitigation strategies that the government can adopt to revive the industry.
In 2017, the government made a commitment to ban tobacco cultivation by end 2020 and launched a programme to discourage farmers from growing tobacco and instead switch to sustainable alternatives. While the transition period of the proposed cultivation ban is nearly over, the programme is currently at a deadlock. This blog examines how tobacco cultivation could weaken the government’s efforts to promote home gardening and why the transformation initiative should be sped up to improve food security during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Farmers in rural areas struggle with the lack of agricultural inputs, outdated technology used in agronomic practices, unpredictable weather, and difficulties in finding better markets with reasonable prices for their harvest. In most areas, small-scale farmers are sidelined when there are large scale players in the production field. The author argues that Contract Farming (CF) can help even the playing field by integrating traditional farmers into existing modern value chains.