1m 58sLenght

Tea is a vital cash crop for around one million people in Sri Lanka. Laborers earn little more than a dollar or two per day for their efforts. But there is no daily guarantee of work. Hiring is directly affected by crop yields and weather patterns. A prolonged dry spell in the first quarter of this year severely limited production yields. It also interrupted the fertilization of fields and tea plucking. [Kamani Nilanthi, Small Tea Estate Owner] "My income is down by about 25%. Like me, all the other small tea estate owners are finding it difficult to make a living with these weather conditions." Many workers are not sure why weather patterns have changed, but they all mention global climate change as the most likely reason. [Raja Ratnam, Tea Estate Worker] "Over the last three years, it's been very difficult to predict the weather. Sometimes we face serious drought, other times we have very heavy rain. It makes it hard to lay fertilizers, which could get washed away, and to manage the tea plantation properly. Due to this, production has gone down and our incomes have dropped as well." A global shortage of tea has pushed prices up by 10-15% in many countries, including tea-loving Britain. Researchers are now developing drought-resistant, high-yield tea plants, and looking at ways to improve soil conservation and develop multi-cropping systems. Despite the current production setback, the Sri Lanka tea board expects the industry to recover toward the end of this year.