Regional Plantation Companies’ (RPC) tea estates will be subjected to checks from the Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) as authorities gear up to meet international standards on residue levels of pesticides with Japanese authorities asking Ceylon Tea to clean up its act.
In the wake of the Japanese request for a reduction in the residue levels of pesticides, local authorities have been in consultation with the industry to work out a solution and ensure Ceylon Tea meets the required relevant standards.
SLTB Chairman Dr. Rohan Pethiyagoda said that from February 19 all teas on the RPCs would be subject to testing for the residue levels of pesticides.
“I have already informed them that if they exceed the European Union (EU) limits their license to operate will be suspended and all the teas that they have stocked at Colombo warehouses will be prevented from being traded or exported,” he explained.
On January 23 the industry heads met with the SLTB officials who were requested to immediately stop using pesticides.
Notice was issued to the RPCs to ensure that testing of teas would be carried out and should any fail to produce the required result their sale and manufacture would be halted until they clean up, it was noted.
The SLTB did not test for residues in the past since manufacturers have been given a list of pesticides to be used on the estates and the now banned glyphosate had been applied for decades.
During discussions the SLTB delegation headed by Dr. Pethiyagoda held in Japan last week, Japanese Health Ministry officials had indicated they wanted Sri Lanka to clean up their act as fast as possible and “come into conformity with their regulations.”
The Japanese authorities have reduced the tolerance levels of residues found in teas, which is lower than the EU standard. According to the new regulations Japanese authorities want residue levels to be at 0.01.
Sri Lanka has seen a few of its Ceylon Tea shipments to Japan getting rejected due to the high residue levels found in it. Japan imports nine million kilos of tea worth over USD70 million from Sri Lanka.