Chrisantha Perera warns of dangers in hasty implementation of chemical fertilizer ban
Ceylon Tea Brokers PLC. (CTBP), a company accounting for 14.77% of tea marketed by the country in volume terms and 15.28 percent in value terms has titled its annual report for 2020/2021 “Defying challenges, achieving growth.”
It says: “Our hard work has borne fruit, as we record a year of growth, inching up the numbers amid challenges, and much like tea in hot water, we will continue to grow stronger with time.”
In his chairman’s review for the year, Mr. Chrisantha Perera who has over 50 year experience in the tea industry, retiring as Chairman/CEO of Forbes and Walker after 44 years with that company, has said CTBP had done ‘exceptionally well’ in the year under review compared to the previous year amid the many challenges the country as a whole had to face.
He noted that the company achieving a much higher bottom line than in the previous year and growing its market share were special highlights for the period under review. Its after-tax profit was up to Rs. 107.53 million from Rs. 21.54 million a year earlier and it paid shareholders a dividend of 35 cents a share against eight cents the previous year.
Perera reported that tea production continued to be disappointing with a 21.6 million kilo (7.2%) decline from the previous year to 278.48 million kilos – the worst since 1997 – with low grown teas accounting for the largest deficit of 20 million kilos.
“Last year’s output was the lowest since 276.86 million kilos (produced) in in 1997,” he said. “The absence of fertilizer application for the greater part of 2019, the extremely hot weather during the first quarter of 2020 and more importantly, the disruption caused by the Covid 19 pandemic brought about the significantly low production in 2020,” he said.
Perera noted that over the last seven years, Sri Lanka’s tea production has been steadily declining and with total production almost 60 million kilos behind 2014. The low grown segment was the biggest loser with a 40 million kilo loss in this period.
The smallholder dominated low grown teas – accounting for nearly 75% of the green leaf harvest – is the most productive elevationally, strongly outpacing both high and mid-grown teas. With the country’s share of the global tea market now below five percent, Perera warned that this declining trend, if not arrested, will seriously affect the sustainability of producers, particularly smallholders.
“Adding to this, the continuously declining availability of ‘Ceylon Tea’ will negatively impact the marketing front, particularly in Middle Eastern countries and Russia, who between them account for over 60% of Sri Lanka’s exports, being compelled to look for alternate suppliers,” he said.
“However, at the time of compiling this report, a welcome recovery is evident with crop figures released for January to May 2021 recording a 134.7 million kilo gain, up 31.6 million kilos (30.66%) over the corresponding period last year. This includes a 34% improvement for the low grown segment, with the high and medium growns increasing 25% in each category.”
But Perera went on to say: “Be that as it may, the government’s recent proposal to switch from the use of chemical fertilizer to organic for all agriculture including tea with immediate effect will hamper plans to increase production.”
He warned that the proposed initiative could result in a short to medium term drop in quality of green leaf harvested and consequently the quality of manufactured tea.
Describing the proposed initiative as “laudable,” in the context of increasing global awareness towards a sustainable economy based on a triple bottom line of “People, Planet and Profits,’ a well thought out implementation plan over a 5-10 year period against an overnight change would have been prudent, he said.
Saying such a step can result in irreparable damage to the tea industry, and consequently the economy, Perera strongly recommended a scientific approach devised by experts in the subject and all associated stakeholder organizations in the plantation industry tasked to formulate the correct strategy.
He also said there appeared to be a mistaken notion relating to the increased Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) occurring through use of chemical fertilizer. Their understanding was that increased MRLs in the final product occur predominantly from incorrect use of pesticides and weedicides.
The top shareholder of CTBP is Ashthi Holdings (Private) Ltd., a company related to Mr. WAT Fernando (30.4%) followed by Mr. WAT Fernando (26.8%), Jetwing Travels (Pvt) Ltd. (18.7%). Ms. NTMS Cooray (6%) Chrisantha Perera and his wife (1.9%) and related companies are among the largest shareholders.
The directors of the company are: Messrs. CPR Perera (chairman), RJN De Mel (deputy chairman), WAT Fernando (MD), DGW De Silva (Director/CEO), KHS Devapriya (former Director/COO), KAD Fernando (Director/COO), Ms. NTMS Cooray, Ms. HMS Perera, BRL Fernando, DH Madawala, HTD Nonis and Z. Mohamed.
Experts explore what sets Sri Lanka apart as a tourist destination
Conservation Tourism Webinar
The Conservation Tourism webinar series organised by Sri Lanka Tourism Alliance was held last month, to explore the topic of ‘Wildlife and Nature Conservation, as it applies to the Future Sustainability of Sri Lanka’s Tourism Industry’.
The webinar attracted a record number of virtual attendees and featured an eminent panel of speakers. The session was introduced by Co-Chair of the Sri Lanka Tourism Alliance, Malik J Fernando, and moderated by Niranga Gunaratna, Director of Communications at Shangri-La Colombo & Shangri-La Hambantota.
The speakers touched on important elements such as what sets Sri Lanka apart as a tourist destination and the economic value of Sri Lanka’s nature and wildlife to the visitor economy. It was clearly established that our biodiversity was the main attraction for tourists. The webinar went on to discuss major challenges faced by Sri Lanka’s nature and wildlife and the consequences to local tourism. The speakers expounded how the tourism industry could bring about conservation outcomes, that would also be beneficial to their own bottom line.
Srilal Miththapala, Past President of The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) emphasized that wildlife is a critical component of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry and that in 2018, out of the 2.2 million tourists who visited Sri Lanka, 50% had visited Sri Lanka’s wildlife parks. He also spoke of how he tried to “awaken” people to the value of Sri Lanka’s wildlife by assigning economic value to this natural resource, especially for wild elephants. Sadly, Sri Lanka whilst being one of the best countries to see them in the wild, is also the country with the worst human-elephant conflict (HEC) in the world. On average over 300 elephants are killed in Sri Lanka annually due to HEC.
Toby Sinclair, Director of &Beyond Asia has over 40 years’ experience in Sri Lanka and with his international lens on tourism, he stated how a couple of decades ago Sri Lanka was certainly the best place to see leopards and elephants in the wild but because the country has chosen “quantity over quality”, the quality of those experiences has declined over time. “Driving in Yala has become like driving down Galle Road at 5 o’clock in the evening,” he said. Mismanagement of our wildlife resources, lack of training for wildlife park guides and jeep drivers and not improving the standard of the visitor experience are keeping Sri Lanka from becoming a successful wildlife tourism destination. “The potential of Sri Lanka is enormous. I am optimistic but I am very concerned that we are going to kill the golden-goose”.
Dr Sumith Pilapitiya, Former Director General of Sri Lanka’s Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) highlighted that “Sri Lanka has the ‘potential’ to be the best wildlife tourism destination outside Africa”, however despite being blessed with every natural resource, it is unlikely that we will reach that potential, as the country lacks strategic direction. Rather we are destroying that potential by destroying our nature and wildlife. He went on to say that the private tourism sector should be doing much more, to work with the government in order to strategically develop the sector by protecting its natural resources, rather than sit complacent while they focus on reaping the benefits of Sri Lanka’s unique biodiversity today. “If Sri Lanka is to reach its potential as the best wildlife tourism destination outside of Africa, the private tourism sector has to play a significant role to make that happen”.
Prime Group offers ‘ultimate’ real estate investment plan
In a concerted effort to open up its exceptional and diverse housing portfolio to a larger portion of Sri Lankans, the country’s largest property development conglomerate, Prime Group recently introduced a revolutionary payment plan, currently unmatched by any other in the industry. The highly-attractive, industry-first offering assures peace of mind for customers by delivering financial flexibility and empowering them to own their dream home at their convenience.The incomparable scheme opens doors for customers to pay as little as 20% of the housing unit’s total value as a down payment, 25% paid in easy instalments over 30 months and the balance 55% when their new home is handed over to them. All Investors can also enjoy guaranteed capital gain and effective ROI of over 75% during 2.5 years for their initial investment. Further, it allows customers to access non-accessible investments and take advantage of a pre-approved mortgage within 30 months. The easy to grasp scheme was carefully curated by Prime Group with over 26 years of enriched experience in the property sector to enable a larger proportion of financially diverse customers to make a smart, well informed decision with utter convenience to make their dream home a reality. The company’s new offering is first introduced to families and individuals looking to put down roots in the scenic, lush green environs present at 88 Residence Piliyandala, Kahathuduwa, which is now open for reservations.”Prime Group has always been deeply committed to delivering projects that meet the needs of the market and flexible financing is one way we achieve this. Therefore, we are thrilled to launch this exceptional ‘Ultimate Real Estate Investment Plan’ for the first time in Sri Lanka. The bedrock of offering is to enable Sri Lankans to materialise their dream home, without worrying about paying the current required down payment of over 30% upfront, which is a welcome respite during these tough economic conditions,” said Prime Group Chairman Premalal Brahmanage”It should also be mentioned that the salary levels of many Sri Lankans do not often allow them to pay off the rest of the 60% within just 2.5 years. We wanted to address this concern, by enabling our customers to pay off just 25% of the value of the property within 2.5 years to making these homes more affordable. This means only 45% of the total value has to be paid at the hand over point. For the balance of 55%, customers are able to pay utilising a bank loan which can also be arranged by Prime Group. Most importantly, customers can always purchase these homes as an investment and sell it after 2.5 years with a minimum effective return on investment of 75%. Therefore, we are confident that this unique scheme will open our high quality portfolio of wholesome living spaces open to a broader community of customers, along with the opportunity to proactively manage their finances, in a long-term affordable way.”The 88 Residence Kahathuduwa is a tranquil, luxury living community overlooking an evergreen paddy field in Piliyandala, 500m away from the proposed Ruwanpura Highway, and 2 km from the Kahathuduwa highway entrance as well as 900m to the 120 bus route. The complex hosts a collection of four diverse types of 88 spacious, two- to three-bedroom, one- to two-storey homes prices starting from Rs. 14.5 million, this luxury complex is slated for completion in early 2024. “As the premier real estate developer in the country, it is vital that we play our part in making sure we do all we can to support our customers at a time when there is an increase in demand for affordable housing in prime locations across the island.
Clogard Tab Wasana to facilitate online learning
Clogard Natural Salt Tab Wasana – a consumer promotion by the leading oral care brand Clogard will roll out from 1st September to 30th November 2021. Through this promotion, the participants will stand a chance to win brand new tabs to make their online learning a reality.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak, online learning has been the most feasible and practical mode of education for students. As the online learning trend continues, the lack of resources such as computers and tabs has become a major barrier for students to continue online learning from their homes.
The consumers who buy the new Clogard Natural Salt 120g (Tab Wasana promo pack) toothpaste pack can stand a chance to win a brand new tab. This pack is available islandwide. Each Clogard Natural Salt 120g (Tab Wasana promo pack) pack carries a six-digit code printed inside. Clogard requests the consumers to send the secret code along with their or their guardian’s NIC number to 8866 via SMS (Type TAB<space>XXXXXX<space>NIC Number). The winners will be selected from 1st October till 30th November.
Commenting on the new promotion, Ramila Fernando, Senior Brand Manager of Clogard said, ” The Tab Wasana campaign will not only help in the immediate education needs of these children but will also help them gain the necessary exposure to technology and knowledge that they need to have in an increasingly digital world.”
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