Thursday, July 9, 2009

Of things to come

I'm reading with a sense of disbelief an article saying that the Sri Lanka Tea Promotion Board has been barred from talking to the media.

I'm sure that the Mandarin's who walk the corridors of power in Colombo know exactly what they are doing when this was decided upon, but I have to confess that I'm at a loss as to what the exact logic was.

Tea has been my life, its been my passion and my career, living and breathing tea lore most of my adulthood. Its taken me from Sri Lanka to China, from the foot of Adam's Peak, all the way to Tiger Hill in Darjeeling from where I've watched the sunrise over the Himalaya's.

In all that time, information has been a critical element, to promote, to plan, to develop strategy based upon how things are. Just stop to consider the manner in which tea flows from the gardens to your cup.

Usually, the tender tea leaves harvested today are converted to a drinkable for withing 24hrs. From that point a sample is drawn and sent to one or more of the 7 Tea Brokers in Colombo. From them that sample is sent on to any of the 400 odd registered tea exporters, who based upon quality, demand and need place a value upon it. When that tea comes up for sale, all that needs to be known about that tea is know - it's quality, the quantity available, when it was made where, by whom and most importantly a value has already been set on it.

This process takes place almost every week of the year and has been going on for over a 100yrs, and it works like clock work.

If the GOSL begins to tinker with the way things are I wonder where we will go... in the face of growing competition from markets such a Vietnam and Indonesia who are producing teas far cheaper than SL does, in the face of increasingly easier trading conditions in competing countries, the trading restrictions faced by SL tea exporters places them at a disadvantage global markets.

The cup that cheers may no longer be that in time to come for us in SL

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