Colombo, Dec 20 (newsin.asia) – A Sri Lankan minister, on Wednesday, raised doubts if a beetle found in one of its tea consignments which was exported to Russia, originated from Sri Lanka.
Plantation Minister Navin Dissanayake told a weekly media briefing here that there was only a 5 percent chance that the lava of the beetle, which was found in the outer packaging of the tea would be from Sri Lanka.
He said tea consignments sent to Russia were usually offloaded in other ports before making its way to Russia. So this raised questions whether Sri Lanka was actually to blame.
“It was not a beetle which was found but instead it was lava. And it was found in the outer packaging and not in the tea. However Sri Lanka shares very close ties with Russia and we hope to resume our tea exports from mid January,” Dissanayake said.
The Minister further said that President Maithripala Sirisena had written to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday night requesting him to lift the ban and the island country was hopeful to resume its exports within the coming few weeks.
Dissanayake said that a delegation would also leave for Russia to hold talks once a date is confirmed from the Russian side.
“We have requested for a date to hold talks with the Russian side. Once the date is given we will send a delegation from Sri Lanka to sort this issue. We are hopeful we can solve this soon as Russia and Sri Lanka share very close ties,” Dissanayake said.
Russian agricultural safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, placed temporary restrictions on imports of all agricultural products from Sri Lanka, including tea, from Dec. 18, after it found an insect, known as the Khapra beetle, in the packaging of one consignment of tea from Sri Lanka.
Russia is the second largest tea market for Sri Lanka following Iran. Russia imported US$ 143 million worth of Ceylon Tea in 2016, which was 11.3 percent of Sri Lanka’s tea exports.
Dissanayake said that a thorough probe was underway regarding the issue and all steps were being taken to ensure the quality and hygiene of tea exported to other countries. He said if Russia proposed further recommendations to secure safety of the tea, then Sri Lanka would implement those recommendations.
He further said that Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Russia had already held talks with Russian officials on the steps taken by Sri Lanka to ensure the safety of its tea.