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Sri Lanka tea industry facing up to new challenges

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Since the Spanish flu infected close to a third of the, then global population a century ago, not even the First & Second World Wars could bring about an enormous tragedy on the human race until the COVID 19 pandemic hit all corners of Planet Earth. The New Corona Virus cases are already racing towards the 50 million mark and the death toll exceeding 1.2 million people with just the Second Wave of the pandemic beginning to spread all over the world like a wild fire aided by the natural wind.

The in tropical & mystic island of Sri Lanka blessed with abundance of rich culture and fertile nature, rain forest, daily direct sunlight of at least 6 hours throughout the year resulting in a conducive climate, soil and weather ideal for growing tea.

Sri Lanka in entirety and the tea industry in particular overcame the First Wave of the COVID 19 during the 2nd Quarter of 2020 with admirable success. The immediate transformation from an “outcry system” to an online electronic Colombo Tea Auction after more than 125 years and the continuation of the total value chain mechanism from the growing, plucking, manufacturing, selling at the weekly auctions, blending & packaging, and finally marketing & exporting branded, packeted or bulk form during the lockdown by defining the tea industry and its export process as an essential service saved the day for “Ceylon Tea”. Though the tea crop has declined over 10% due to a number of causes, the tea prices fetched at the Colombo Tea Auction has in fact appreciated by 15% up to end of September 2020 vis-a-vis same period of last year from Rs 542 per kilo to Rs 624 per kilo.

Today, the world has reached a crucial milestone where every nation is searching for human immunity boosting methods to counter the Corona Virus infection until an effective vaccination is introduced to the global masses. In that context, drinking warm beverages and inhaling hot vapour is generally believed to be helpful. This is where the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka (TRI) in collaboration with the analytical laboratory of SLTB has conducted a literature survey and further studies on “Theaflavins in Black Tea” and concluded black tea may be helpful in controlling and flushing out the viruses. The TRI has released a scientific publication under the topic “Antiviral properties of Tea” where it has been noted that drinking Black Tea helps to fight viruses. It could theoretically draw a parallel to a Taiwan research study (original article published in 2005) where the chemical structure of 64 compounds had been bioinformatically modelled against SARS – COVID – 2.

The hypothesis developed by the scientists that “Theaflavins” an antioxidant polyphenol richly found in Black Tea could potentially inhibit an enzyme from the Corona family and increase the human immunity, will need further investigations to establish authenticity. Nevertheless, “Theaflavins” is proven to be a compound which could alleviate respiratory diseases and open air passages in the human lungs for the facilitation of breathing. Further, the laboratory scientists at Sri Lanka Tea Board suggest, that frequent consumption of hot Black Tea (without sugar & milk) and inhaling the tea fumes is supportive of flushing viruses trapped in the throat and nasal area. This reaction helps in improving the immune capacity and inhibiting inflammation due to Catechins and Polyphenols contained in Black Tea. It should be mentioned here that consumption of Black Tea has not been proven medically as a treatment against the COVID 19 until extensive research studies are conducted with human trials. 

In this connection, the Sri Lanka tea industry stakeholders have moved rapidly towards online meetings, lively discussions and working group sessions with the international clientele through virtual platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom conferences. All promotional campaigns for Ceylon Tea for the future are being focused through digital and social media against the backdrop of a pandemic lockdown in many global destinations. Utilizing the power of social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, We chat etc through an identified panel of Influences, Bloggers, Authentic Opinion Makers and a few Celebrities Ceylon Tea clips, videos, messages, electronic banners etc are to be aired within the global campaign. It will be reinforced through search engines marketing availing Google, Yandex, Baidu and other effective digital media as per the respective countries of operation. This strategy is to be combined with other necessary upgrades on the supply chain mechanism. 

Hasitha de Alwis Consultant 



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BOI launches long term residence visa programme for investors

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Investment Promotion Minister Dhammika Perera and BOI Director General Renuka M Weerakone with Hajar Alafifi Laadel, Chairperson and Managing Director, Unilever, Sri Lanka ltd

The Board of Investment (BOI) recently launched the five-year residence visa program dedicated to investors, stakeholders and BOI enterprises.Issuing long-term visas for investors has been the practice as per the international standards. On par with matching the international benchmark in respect of ease of doing business, the BOI has decided to launch this program to attract more investors to the country.

The long-term visa program, a long-felt need, primarily aims to facilitate the investors who wish to embark on a journey with the BOI.The BOI annually issues 7500-8000 visa recommendations for investors, employees and dependents.The BOI has granted visas for foreign nationals from 109 countries such as India, the United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Pakistan which represent the most applicants based on last year’s statistics.

Addressing the gathering, Investment Promotion Minister Dhammika Perera said “The happiness on the faces of those investors present at the occasion, implies that the newly launched visa residence scheme is a success,”

“Before the implementation of this program, they had to go through a long documentation process every year to get these visas,” he pointed out.

“Having understood the prime need to provide a seamless and convenient service for investors, we have launched the new program albeit I have not officially assumed duties as the Investment Promotion Minister,” Perera highlighted.

BOI Director General Renuka M Weerakone stated “It is certainly a pleasure to see all our long-standing investors on this special day of launching the long-term residence visa program for investors.

“You all have been the contributors towards 65% of export earnings to Sri Lanka and have stood by us even in times of difficult periods that our country faced, which we wish to acknowledge with great gratitude,” she underscored.

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Dialog Enterprise introduces Dialog SmartLife App for Three Sinha roller doors

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Manjula Ariyakumara, Managing Director of Three Sinha Group of Companies and Navin Pieris, Group Chief Officer - Dialog Enterprise of Dialog Axiata PLC

The Three Sinha Group, a leading roller door company in Sri Lanka, has teamed up with Dialog Enterprise, the corporate ICT solutions arm of Dialog Axiata PLC, to launch a smart roller door controlled via the Dialog SmartLife App. This app enables users to control and access roller door services conveniently from their smartphones. Customers who use Three Sinha roller doors simply need to download the Dialog SmartLife App on Apple App Store and Google Play Store on their smartphone to operate the roller doors from anywhere.

“This is another important step in that process, and we are pleased to partner Dialog Enterprise to provide customers with a future-fit solution. I invite our customers to become a part of this experience”, said Manjula Ariyakumara, the Managing Director of Three Sinha Group of Companies. “As expounded by our brand ethos ‘The Future.Today’, Dialog is continuously seeking avenues of incorporating communication technology into many service areas and product offerings. In line with this vision, we are delighted to partner Three Sinha, a leading Roller Door company in Sri Lanka”, stated Navin Pieris, Group Chief Officer – Dialog Enterprise of Dialog Axiata PLC

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People’s Bank commemorates its 61st anniversary

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People’s Bank, held a modest ceremony to on 1st July to commemorate their 61st anniversary at the bank’s Head Office in Colombo 02. Chairman of the People’s Bank Sujeewa Rajapakse and CEO/General Manager Ranjith Kodituwakku addressed the staff at this event.

In addition, Religious programs were organized by the Buddhist Association, Hindu Association, Muslim Majlis and the Christians Guild of the People’s Bank to invoke blessings on the country, the people, the customers and the pioneering leaders who have contributed to establish the People’s Bank.

Accordingly, a Pirith chanting was held at the Head Office which was followed by an alms giving at Sambodhi Viharaya in Fort with the patronage of Chief Incumbent Most Ven. Professor Iththademaliye Indhasara Thero. Hindu pooja was conducted by Sri Nivasa Kurukkal, Bambalapitiya, Islamic Service conducted by Deshabandu Al Haj Faisal Hassan mowlavi at Dawatagaha Jumma mosque in Colombo and the holy mass was conducted by Rev. Father Anton Rohitha at St. Philip Mary’s church in Pettah.People’s Bank Corporate and Executive Management, bank staffs and retired employees were also present at the occasion.

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