Tropical Agricultural Research (Dec 2017)
Prospects and issues related to tea cultivation in mid country homegarden based tea smallholdings in a selected village in Sri Lanka
Smallholder tea sector plays a vital role in Sri Lanka’s economy and also in the rural economy. Smallholder tea lands are associated with homegardens in many areas, which have implications towards the development and maintenance of the homegardens. Thus, this study was focused on identifying prospects and issues in tea production of smallholders who have a tea-based homegarden in Aluthgama village, Nawalapitiya. Data was collected through a questionnaire survey using 100 growers to include the cost item, family involvement, extension service interaction, new technologies and issues. Chi square test, correlation and descriptive statistics were used in data analysis. The relative severity index (RSI) was calculated to determine the relative importance of various issues of smallholders. The tea was grown adjoining the homegarden or as a mixed cropping system. Tea was preferred due to the higher income from tea lands. Major cost items were fertilizer and labour for plucking. In more than 70% of households, at least one family member got involved in weeding followed by plucking to reduce cost of production. Out of the 15 identified problems, RSI value showed that climate effect is the highest influencing issue followed by low productivity, labour shortage, high cost for labour and land suitability. On the contrary, land ownership, buyer shortages, long crop duration and time taken to receive money after sales were not considered as matters in the studied area. High cost of production in tea cultivation is a challenge. Therefore, to reduce the cost of production and to overcome labour and land problem, involvement of family members was significant. In order to overcome uncertain future of tea, promotion and development of tea-based homegarden can be a viable approach to secure the food and income among smallholder farmers.