Over 110 tea factory owners participated in the
HACCP Awareness and Quality Evaluation Seminar for Tea Factories
in the Southern Province, Arranged by Lanka Commodity Brokers
Ltd in association with the Tea Association of Sri Lanka,
People’s Leasing Co. Ltd and Amana Takaful Ltd (Insurance).
Representatives of management companies,
government and semi government representatives and eminent tea
trade personalities also attended the seminar, which was
important in educating the tea industry personnel about the
Mr. Sarath Sirisena, the CEO of Lanka Commodity
Brokers Ltd outlined the legislation with regard to food hygiene
which will come in to force in the European Union Member
Countries as from the 1st of January, 2006, which is expected to
impact on Lanka tea exports. It was pointed out that all these
countries would be insisting on buying tea only from HACCP
certified tea factories, and it was therefore most important
that our Factory Owners are made aware of this, so that they
could take appropriate action to ensure that their Teas continue
to get the valuable support of the EU buyers.
The HACCP Presentation was made on behalf of the
Tea Association of Sri Lanka by Dr. Dhayan Kirtisinghe, who
emphasized the need to follow the basic requirements of factory
hygiene which was a pre-requisite towards HACCP Certification.
He mentioned of simple things such as having some kind of net or
mesh to prevent Birds from entering the withering area, so as to
eliminate the risk of Bird Droppings. It was also mentioned that
the Tea Rolling Room should be thoroughly washed after the days
work with clean water that is suitable for consumption, and that
the water should drain out so that the surface would be dry the
following morning. The area where the water drains out should be
also adequately meshed in order to prevent insects and rats
entering the premises. Additionally, Dr. Kirtisinghe emphasized
the need to maintain the moisture level of the made teas within
accepted trade norms.
Amongst a host of points made included
maintaining proper and accurate factory records, which can be of
much help in tracing back any matter that needs to be looked in
to. Dr. Kirtisinghe cautioned the Producers that Sri Lanka’s COP
which was higher than other Producer Countries on account of 65%
constituting Labour Wages, was very high when compared to other
The COP in Kenya was SL Rs. 80/- per Kg, whilst
that of India was between Rs. 70/- to 80/-, and Vietnam just SL
Rs. 60/-. In this backdrop Sri Lanka cannot afford to lose any
of its market share, and it would be in every Producers interest
to gear their factories to these new requirements.
The HACCP awareness talk was followed by Mr.
Joseph Sinniah, Director of Akbar Brothers Ltd, the single
largest buyer of tea at the Colombo Auctions, educating the
gathering on the current market trends and the international
buyers’ quality requirements. He spoke of the many areas factory
owners needs to address in order to stay alive in a continuously
changing business environment, where competitiveness is the key.
It was pointed out that factories should
recognize the importance of having a consistent range of grades,
since there has been an alarming increase of Tea Invoices where
the leaf style has been found to vary from bag to bag,
indicating irregular bulking of Teas prior to packing, in the
factories. This situation has led to many claims being made by
the buyers and some of the Main Buyers of Tea have even had to
equip their Colombo Blending Warehouses with Sifters, and the
cost of operating these additional machines including labour
would undoubtedly come off the ultimate sale price of the Tea.
It was therefore explained to the Producers that they must
endeavor to make their teas to be even in particle size.
Chairman of the Beralapanathara Co-operative
Society , Mr. Maddumage also mentioned that it would not be
unreasonable to expect some financial assistance from the State
towards our Tea Factories achieving HACCP Certification, as the
Southern Region produced 60% of the National Crop and accounted
for the bulk of Sri Lanka’s Agricultural Export Income.