Glyphosate ban has cut tea production by 20%
Posted on September 25th, 2017

Courtesy Ceylon Today

The Glyphosate weedicide ban and the government’s failure to introduce an alternative weedicide has cost at least 20 per cent of tea production annually. In addition, a lack of an alternative weedicide has also led to tea planters using other weedicides, which are unauthorized by the country’s export partners, risking export restrictions on Sri Lanka’s tea exports. Addressing the AGM of The Planters’ Association of Sri Lanka, Chairman, Sunil Poholiyadde said, “Almost two and a half years have elapsed since the Glyphosate weedicide ban, however, no research institute has come up with an alternative chemical or weedicide for Glyphosate . Hence, planters are unable to control weeds during the monsoon season and as a result, fertilizer application has to be restricted. We presume it has caused at least a 20 per cent drop in tea production.”

Meanwhile, delivering the keynote speech at the AGM, Sri Lanka Tea Board, Chairman, Rohan Pethiyagoda warned……”When the Government banned Glyphosate , they didn’t give any additional resources to the Tea Research Institute (TRI) to research alternatives. The consequence of this is that many plantation owners have begun using alternatives which are not authorized in our export market. These unauthorized substances have been found in our tea exports to Germany and Japan. Sooner or later, our tea export partners would impose restrictions on Sri Lankan tea exports. This is a serious situation. However, I cannot wake the Government up to think seriously about the issues facing the tea industry.”

Pethiyagoda also warned that due to climate change, Sri Lanka’s tea sector was in danger and enough research was not being done by the TRI due to a shortage of funds. He said “Nuwara Eliya has become the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka, with less than 2000mm rainfall. If you tea is to be planted in this area, you need to carefully think of sustainability and how we are going to find a way to make it sustainable. ‘That’s the responsibility of the TRI”. ”However, do you know the current annual budget of the TRI?” he queried. ”It’s a mere Rs 90 million. We need new soil management technique and irrigation techniques, to combat climate change”, he added.
Pethiyagoda pointed out that there was no rational explanation or responsible party behind the ban on Glyphosate in 2015. He asserted, “The Government banned Glyphosate almost three years ago. But who made this decision? We have a Registrar of Pesticides and the Tea Research Institute to look into matters such as these but none of them claimed that they took this decision. It is as if somebody woke up one morning and said let’s ban Glyphosate . To this day, there is no one accountable for this decision”, he added.

Moreover, he revealed that despite many efforts of the Minister of Plantation Industries, the government have failed to provide a solution. He elaborated ”

The minister has been working hard to get the ban lifted and already have submitted three Cabinet papers. However, no one is looking in the eye and saying why it was banned despite the cost to the tea industry and to the economy.”

According to latest tea export data, the country earned $ 1.002 billion during the period from January-August 2017; up a sharp 20% on last year’s earnings of $ 834 million. The highest US dollar earned from exports for the eight-month period was $ 1.092 billion achieved in 2014 due high tea prices in the global market. However,Pethiyagoda warned that the country’s tea sector might not be sustainable in the long-terms, unless the goverment adress the internal issues of tea planters. (NF)

5 Responses to “Glyphosate ban has cut tea production by 20%”

  1. . Says:

    Bodhi Danapala Says;

    Here is a list of banned chemical substances in Sri Lanka.
    1. These banned chemicals were requested to be banned by qualified toxicologists and agricultural scientists, and not by uneducated quacks like Ven. Ratana. We have no issues with the recommendations of qualified scientists. No qualified scientist has requested to ban glyphosate.

    2. The use of DDT for domestic control of mosquitoes is in keeping with the WHO recommendation of 2006, after more than 20 years of careful research.
    Read the National Geographic article which explained the misery suffered by Africa after the banning of DDT.

    India uses DDT not only domestically, but even in its tea estates. Australia (where I believe Dilrook lives), imports Indian tea and I imagine Dilrook drinks it while pontificating about Glyphosate and claiming that glyphosate indiscriminately attacks all tissue.
    Glyphosate attacks only tissues with Green chlorophyll that use sunlight for photosynthesis. So, unless Dilrook is a green man from Mars, he can feel sure that nothing will happen to him

    3. Also, no one needs not worry about his gut bacteria, because they don’t get any sunlight and hence they don’t have chlorophyll. So glyphosate does not act on his gut.

    4. The issue of adjuvants (additives) to glyphsate (as found in Round up) was tested in field trials in Minnasota and N. Carolina by Prof. Acquavella and his team over several years, using farmers who did NOT wear protective clothing.While the average ingestion by farmers was 3 micrograms/kg, the allowed amount was 700. Also, the adjuvant is onl 15% of the 3 micrograms/kg, and again fell way below the allowed maximum for Tallow amine.

    Acquavella JF, Alexander BH, Mandel JS, Gustin C, Baker B, Chapman P, Bleeke M (2004) Glyphosate biomonitoring for farmers and their families: results
    from the farm family exposure study. Environ Health Perspect 112(3):321–326

    There is much more diesel, petroleum fumes etc in Dilrooks blood that he absorbs from the street, and these are very much more serious class-I toxins, compared to glyphosate which is only a class-II toxin. But so far I haven’t seen him, or Mohn arguing to ban the motor car, the diesel tractors etc., and return to the Bullock cart.

    Note that even today Sri Lanka allows leaded petroleum, but these are irelavant to the anti-Glyphosate lobby whose real target is GMO food! But unknown to most people, Sri Lankans have been eating GMO Parippu (Lentils) from Canada for the last 20 years, and of course with no ill effects!

    The other substances were reviewed by the MRI and their reports were used.

    In the case of Glyphosate, a meeting was held with Dinesh Gunewardena, Ven. Ratana, Prof. RMG Rajapaksa (Peradeniya U), and several other people. Ven. ratana began by scolding the scientists present and saying that these “Vasha Visha Vikuanana Aacharya waru elavanna ona.” When Prof. Rajapaksa attempted to defend himself, he was not allowed to, and the Minster had said, let Ven. Ratana continue”, and so on. I have heard it from Peradeniya Professors.

    This was under the Rajapaksa regime. Then a gazette notification was prepared, but it was not issued as Gazzette notification, as scientists had spoken to President Rajapaksa. But when Sirisena became President, Ven. Ratana and Champika Ranawaka moved with Sirsena, and then Sirisena agreed to allow Ven. ratana to take over agricultural policy direction from the Presidential secretariate. This was how SEMA set up. It under SEMA that Glyphosate was banned, fertilizer subsidy was stopped and money was directly given to farmers, and fertilizers are being made less available, forcing the farmers to “make their own compost”, or by BIOFILM, a scam “fertilizer” that does not work (see expose in March. Island newspaper by Dr. Waidyanatha:
    ) but actively pushed by the Presential secretariat.

    So it is not only banning Glyphosate, but also promoting scam stuff claiming it to be bio-fertilizer etc.
    SEMA is a big “jaavarama”, which exploits people’s fear of Kidney disease to rid a wave of being “green” and gain political popularity.
    The current incarnation of SEMA is due to Asoka Abeywardena, a henchman of Ven. Ratana and promoter of the Biofilm “fertilizer” scam.
    Ven. Ratana makes Rs40 million by selling a car in the Black Market every 5 years. But the TRI
    grant from the Gov is only about 90 million.

    All pesticides are reviewed every two years (128 months in the EU) and if there are better ones, the old onces are grand-fathered and the new ones are authorized. The pesticdes mentioned by Dilrook took the proper course, with the Registrar of Pesticides doing the needful.

    In the case of Glyphosate, it has been reviewed every 2 years, and every two years it has passed with flying colours, and nothing more efficient and cheap has been made (not for want of trying, as many rival chemical firms wanted to make a better one. Since about 15 years ago, Monsanto’s patent has expired, and China is fast becoming the chief producer).

    Glyphosdate has been banned. Even if the TRI were given a lot of money they are unliekly to find anything better or safer than glyphosate.

  2. Dilrook Says:

    Tea industry has been suffering losses for a very long time. It is not due to Glyphosate ban! It is due to world’s highest labour cost in the industry. State has been subsidizing tea plantations for a very long time. However, profitable small plantations have not been making these demands. They are profitable because of higher labour productivity. Tea output has been falling for the past few decades. It has become an unprofitable industry.

    Tea revenues increased by a massive 20% year on year last year mainly due to price increase. What matters is this for the industry. There are two ways to increase revenue – price increase and/or quantity increase. If quantity increases, price tends to drop.

    On the comment above, the list of banned chemicals is long (which I provided to the commentator). Interestingly, some quarters support 2 of those banned chemicals. Others have no takers. These are the most profitable of all the banned chemicals! Their patent owners are making far more profit on these 2 banned chemicals (Glyphosate and DDT) than all other banned chemicals combined.

    Glyphosate was first banned in 2014 by Mahinda after careful scientific consideration. The ban was lifted for unknown reasons. It was reimposed in 2015. The reason for the ban was not Venerable Rathana. He is just a single MP. More than 10 MPs support tea industry claims.

    Glyphosate has also been found in prepared tea, other foods and even in animal tissues!


  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    Herewith an article of interest on the topic discussed.
    We agree with Dilrook’s comment.


    ‘Be cautious in using glyphosate for weed control in tea’
    by Dr. Kapila Prematilake
    Daily News, June 24, 2004

    (Senior Research Officer), Low Country Station, Tea Research Institute, Ratnapura and B.P. Ekanayake (Officer-in-Charge), Mid Country Station, Tea Research Institute, Hantana, Kandy.

    Glyphosate herbicide, when sprayed to the weed foliage gets translocated to all plant tissues and effectively kills the entire plant including rhizomes of perennial weeds. Ability of killing wide range of weeds makes Glyphosate one of the most versatile herbicides.

    Thus, most of the tea estates and smallholders heavily depend on glyphosate for weed control. Glyphosate (36% a.i.) is marketed in Sri Lanka under different trade names.

    Wilting tea plants

    However, indiscriminate use of glyphosate on tea lands has adversely affected health and productivity of the tea bush in the recent years. Furthermore, increasing levels of glyphosate residues have been reported in our tea exported to other countries.

    Glphosate was first introduced to tea cultivation in 1980s for the control of problem weeds such as Couch and Illuk grasses. Higher dosages of glyphosate (36%) at 11 and 5.5 litres in 600 of water per hectare were recommended to control Couch and Illuk grasses, respectively.

    Later in 1995, the lower rates of glyphosate i.e. 1.4-2.8 1/ha (0.25.5%) were recommended to control other weeds as well. From the inception TRI has recommended series of precautionary measures to be adopted when using glyphosate for weed control in tea.

    However, symptoms of discolouration, browning of leaves, wilting, twisting or curling of leaves have been observed as phtotoxic symptoms of glyphosate. Higher dosages of glyphosate could result in leaf fall, and sometimes death of the plant.

    In mature tea, damages are generally observed on peripheral shoots, which grow laterally at a lower height almost at the ground level. Symptoms of deformed leaves, development of multiple buds and formation of rosettes may appear about 4-5 weeks after application.

    Thus, the ultimate result of regular spraying of glyphosate is debilitation of the bush and decline in yield. Recent field investigations have also confirmed the debilitation and yield decline due to regular use of glyphosate (i.e 3.4 rounds per year) over a period of 4-year cycle (Table 1).

    Furthermore, regular use of glyphosate could result in glyphosate residues in made tea. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the Maximum Residual Level (MRL) of glyphosate allowed in Black tea is 0.5 parts per million (ppm), i.e. 0.5 mg in one kg of black tea.

    When glyphosate is used in excess of 0.5% (>2.7 l/ha) on tea lands glyphosate residues have been detected until 14 days after application, whereas, glyphosate residues have not been detected in tea seven days after application when the rates are below 0.5%.

    Moreover, it is also well known that the use of a single herbicide can lead to development of resistance in weeds.

    In spite of the cautionary notes issued by the TRI, some estates and tea small holders are using glyphosate at rates higher than 0.5% i.e. about 3-4 l/ha/round 4-5 times a year.

    As a result of such deviation from the TRI recommendations for the use of glyphosate, stipulated in Circulars and Guidelines, a serious situation is being emerged in the tea industry. This may be attributed to lack of knowledge and awareness on safe use of herbicides, particularly of glyphosate.

    The majority of smallholders used to get improper advices from the salesmen of pesticide outlets.

    Even in the estate sector field staff and workers have not been properly educated on safe and effective methods of herbicide use.

    Therefore, it is necessary that the field staff and workers, who are directly engaged in herbicide application be educated in all aspects of chemical weed control, which covers phytotoxicity, mode of action, residue levels, persistency, dosages and rates of application of all recommended herbicides used for weed control in tea.

    Further, they should be educated on proper use of spray equipments, correct nozzles, spray guards and correct pressure of application.

    In order to minimize adverse effects and build up of residues in made tea it is recommended that number applications of glyphosate should be limited to two rounds per year for mature tea and it should not be used on young tea (up to first pruning) and first year after pruning.

    Though, Glyphosate is a total weed killer, some weeds such as Commelina, Hedyotis, Cyperus spp, Wedelia and Morning Glory are tolerant to Glyphosate.

    Therefore, it is not advisable to use glyphosate on these weeds and they should be controlled by cocktail mixtures of herbicides or by other methods. Today, the estates are compelled to practise chemical weeding due to the acute shortage of labour. The use of glyphosate in the estate sector is alarmingly high.

    Some estates are undergoing economic crisis due to lower NSA and lower profit margin with a low capital investment. As a result those estates are compelled to use a single herbicide like glyphosate to reduce cost of weeding.

    However, the adverse effects of improper use of this weedicide on tea fields overweigh the short term benefits such as reduction of cost of weeding.

    Therefore, it is extremely necessary to adhere to the recommendations of the TRI given in the form of advisory circulars, guidelines and precautionary notes.

    In this context, a lower dose of glyphosate could be used with a wetting agent or a surfactant available in the market or with Ammonium Sulphate, Urea of Kaolin for weed control in tea.

    Weeds that are not killed by glyphosate should be selectively controlled by other means of managing weeds such as manual or cultural method or with a cocktail mixture of weedicides as recommended by the TRI.

    Otherwise these weeds could become dominant and eventually a threat in tea cultivation. Finally, for an effective and sustainable weed management in tea, resorting to a minimum number of rounds of the same herbicide particularly glyphosate within a year in combination with other herbicides and practice of other manual, cultural and biological methods in rotation should meticulously be followed.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    An interesting bit of information on the net re getting rid of grass :

    Instead of using weedcides, VINEGAR sprayed on can be used to get rid of various types of grass.

    Also, they say that Tea bushes like acidic soil. Vinegar is acidic. I don’t know if any research has been done in tea estates on the use of vinegar as a safe alternative to remove grass weeds.
    If someone can contribute more information on this, it would be useful.

  5. Senerath Says:

    I wonder what benifit Bodhi Dhanapala get by promoting Glyposate. He is in Canada and people in Sri Lanka getting killed due to whatever reason and he need not promote glyposate, if he loves Sri Lankans, he can try to find a solution and help to implement it. Whether Glyposate is used or not, providing good drinking water is a must and he rightly mention it. But his main aim appears to be PROMOTING GLYPOSATE.

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