Official figures say Sri Lanka's vital tea exports have fallen to their lowest level in 23 years due to a fertilizer ban and Russia's war with Ukraine.
Tea is the island nation’s biggest export commodity, bringing in about US $ 1.3 billion annually before the current economic downturn, the worst since independence in 1948.
But a bungled ban on fertiliser imports last year - introduced in a doomed effort to save foreign currency and avoid a debt default - hit growers hard, with production falling 18 percent on-year for the period from November 2021 to February 2022.
Customs data showed that first-quarter exports in 2022 correspondingly plunged to 63.7 million kilos (140 million pounds), down from 69.8 million kilos in the January-March period last year.
The tally was the lowest since the first quarter of 1999, when the country shipped out 60.3 million kilos of tea.’