أنت تستخدم إصدار مستعرض قديمًا. الرجاء استخدام إصدار معتمد للحصول على أفضل تجربة MSN.

Sri Lanka tea farmers struggle after devastating floods

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 25/06/2017

Tea farmers in Sri Lanka are struggling to make ends meet after their land was destroyed by heavy floods and mudslides last month.

The floods, described by authorities as the worst to hit the country in more than a decade, killed more than 200 people and displaced more than 600,000 people from their homes.

For many of the 400,000 small farmers who grow more than 70 percent of the country's tea, the floods covered their tea bushes by up to five metres with mud and sludge, leading to the rotting of some roots.

K Seelawathi, a farmer in the town of Akuressa in Matara district, told Al Jazeera she hopes this will be the last flood she sees in her lifetime.

"I used to harvest 400 kilograms at a time, earning a good amount," she said.

"I built my house and educated my children. But with almost no income now, things are very difficult."

Prabhat Bezbaruah, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, which oversees the $1.6bn tea industry, said that almost 300 tonnes of tea and green leaf were destroyed, adding that damage to factories is still being assessed.

Bezbaruah says the cost of the floods needs to be measured in humanitarian, and not financial, terms.

He says losses that small farmers have incurred in terms of their lives and property are substantial.

Sri Lanka's tea industry, which earns $1.3bn a year, has also seen a decrease in supply after the floods.

READ MORE- Sri Lanka: Buddhist leader stokes anti-Muslim tension

Gunasoma Wanigasekara, the owner of a tea factory, says that while things are improving, it will take time for conditions to return to normal.

"There's been a five to 10 percent drop [in tea supply]," he  told Al Jazeera. "The farmers can't attend to their work in the fields, so they can't give 100 percent output to the tea land."

Mudslides have become common during the monsoon season in Sri Lanka as land has been heavily deforested to grow export crops such as tea and rubber.

Last year, monsoon rains caused flooding and landslides that killed more than 100 people.

MORE FROM ALJAZEERA

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon