Saturday, 22 July 2017

Tracing the origins of Sri Lankan tea pickers

Would You Like A Cup of Sri Lankan Tea?

Tea lovers already know that Sri Lanka is world famous (world’s No. 2 exporter) for its tea and the tea production is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for the country itself. The country has six main growing regions, each with its own weather patterns and unique geographical features. Lowland teas may be found just inland at elevations beginning at 1,500 feet above sea level, while highland one are situated as high as 8,000 feet. The consistently warm climate, heavy rainy seasons and the high humidity lead to almost nonstop tea production along the year. No matter where they are grown, all tea leaves are brought to the capital city of Colombo to be exported around the world. This is all already well known to everyone, what most of the people still don't know is the backstage of the workers in this industry:  they live in poverty and their lives are getting tougher. When you cross Nuwara Eliya or other tea cities you can see from the street the tea pickers at work. Tourists and travelers often stop by the road just to take some good photos of the labors at work and nobody goes walking deep inside the paths to see what's really happening there. Men and women, work from dawn to sunset in order to collect more possible leaves (only the first three leaves). Seems like they harvest around 18 kg per day to earn not more than 3 euros; they have to work quickly under the hot sun to fill their baskets before their takings are weighed and added up at the end of the day. The tea labors are immigrant Indians brought from South India by British plantation owners in the earlier 1850s to work on their tea estates. Until now the community is very closed with poor connections toward the rest of the country. If you take a walk among the plantations you can see their hidden villages. Their houses are small and essential with a roof made of iron sheets weighted down with few stones. According to what they said it seems they don’t get enough money from their hard work to get to eat a full meal. They have no electricity, they have no running water in the houses and the only toilets are outside for common use. Their poor life condition is the reason why when they are photographed by tourists they ask money. They are not getting any help and it seems that the government is not giving any assistance to this people in order to provide their development. It should provide at least a better education for their children which could be an only way to raise them up from their life conditions. So it is not only about the picturesque scenery by the street but it is much more!!!


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