World Bank provides $70m to upgrade plantations | Sunday Observer

World Bank provides $70m to upgrade plantations

Minister Navin Dissanayake with World Bank officials Ulrich Shmitt, Seenithambi Manoharan, Emannuel Salinas and Agricultural Consultant Jeevaka Atapattu at the meeting.

The World Bank will provide Sri Lanka US$ 70 million to modernize the estates and factories of Regional Plantations Companies (RPCs) with the funds to be used mainly for replanting, improving roads and tea factories, and water management to deal with climate change impact, the Ministry of Plantation Industries said in a statement.

It said the World Bank support came after talks the Minister of Plantation Industries, Navin Dissanayake held with World Bank officials recently to explore possibility of obtaining assistance to upgrade and develop tea plantations managed by RPCs with to enhance their profitability.

The World Bank was represented by Ulrich Shmitt, Seenithambi Manoharan and Emannuel Salinas while the Minister was assisted by Jeevaka Atapattu, Agricultural Specialist/Consultant.

“World Bank officials agreed to allocate US$ 70 million for this important project and it was proposed that 50% of the amount would be released as a concessionary loan and the balance as an outright grant,” the statement said.

“This facility is for the replanting of tea which has been badly neglected over the years and to upgrade the dilapidated roads network in tea estates.”

Part of the fund will be used to cluster a suitable number of scattered tea factories into a centrally located large scale automated tea processing plant that will improve the quality of tea produced at a lower cost. It was proposed to mitigate the negative impact of climate change and erratic rainfall patterns by introducing novel water management techniques such as sprinkler irrigation to drought stricken tea fields enabling year-round harvesting of tea leaves. The ministry statement also said a suggestion was made to market, tea, directly to consumers by the tea factory owners or producing estates, bypassing tea auctions to help increase the profit margins of producers. “This project is expected to enhance the competitiveness of most of the tea estates and benefit many of the estate workers and employees,” the Ministry of Plantation Industries said.