Sri Lanka’s tea farmers struggling to survive

Leaves from the lush green tea estates covering the hills of central Sri Lanka end up in cups across the world. Tea is the island’s biggest export, normally bringing in more than $1bn a year, but the industry is being hard hit by the unprecedented economic crisis. Most of Sri Lanka’s tea is grown by smaller farmers, like Rohan Tilak Gurusinghe, who owns two acres of land close to the village of Kadugunnawa. But he’s still reeling from the impact of a sudden, poorly thought-out government decision to ban chemical fertiliser last year.

“I’m losing money,” he tells the BBC despondently. “Without fertiliser or fuel, I can’t even think about the future of my business.” The ban, ordered to try to protect the country’s dwindling foreign reserves, was one of a number of disastrous policy decisions implemented by the now-ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, with agricultural output falling significantly. It was later reversed, but fertiliser has shot up in price and is still difficult to source, while the government is now unable to afford to import adequate supplies of petrol and diesel.(BBC)…[+]

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