Planters' Association of Ceylon hail winners at the National Plantation Awards

The Planters' Association of Ceylon, the representative body of the island's corporate plantation  sector lauded the Regional Plantation Companies (RPC's) which secured awards at the first ever National Plantation Awards held at Temple Trees recently. The ceremony saw a total of 86 outstanding performers including smallholders, manufacturers, exporters and RPCs receive awards from His Excellency the President.

RPC's rewarded for their continuous commitment to re-planting over the last five years included Talawakelle Tea Estates of the Hayleys Group which bagged the top award in the tea sector. The Company’s investment on replanting of tea during 2011 amounted to Rs.93.3 Mn, according to its Annual Report. Pussellawa Plantations of Free Lanka Capital Holdings which commenced rubber re-planting six years ago secured top place in the rubber sector. Company officials have said 44% of the profits for 2011 was reinvested in the replanting drive. Kelani Valley Plantations also of the Hayleys Group and Hapugastenne Plantations were among the winners as well.

Kotagala Plantations,  Talawakelle Tea Estates, Kelani Valley Plantations, Pussellawa Plantations, Maturata Plantations and Kegalle Plantations were recognized for 'Highest Crop Productivity', in both tea and rubber sectors during the last five years.

“The Association is delighted to see the RPCs which contribute significantly to the country's economy being rewarded at the first ever National Plantation Awards,” said Malin Goonetileke, Secretary General of the Planters' Association of Ceylon.  “We consider the awards a much needed encouragement for the sustainability of an industry which is one of the largest foreign exchange earners in the island.”    

Companies awarded for commitment towards mechanization of important field practices such as plucking, pruning and spraying included Watawala Plantations, owners of state-of-the-art Waltrim Tea Factory in Lindula, Kelani Valley Plantations and Talawakele Tea Estates. Waltrim claimed its annual output has surged 66% to a  million kilos of made tea after the construction of the new factory two years ago while energy costs have reduced significantly. These companies also secured awards for  'Commitment to HRD - Capacity Building' judged on the number of trained employees, training programmes and expenditure incurred on training in their respective estates.

Kelani Valley Plantations secured the award for 'Commitment towards Value Addition' adjudged on the volume of tea converted into value added tea, additional income from value addition and quantity of value added tea during the last five years. The company also bagged the top award for 'Innovativeness' followed by Udapussellawa Plantations and Talawakele Tea Estates. The winners were recognized for innovativeness in environmental, social and economic practices as recommended by the Tea Research Institute (TRI) and the Rubber Research Institute (RRI).

“Not only does the plantation industry contribute a significant portion of the country's GDP but we have placed Sri Lanka amongst the global leaders in Tea and Rubber exportation,” said Mr Goonetileke. “The only way we can sustain an industry such as ours, is through continued innovation, and this has to been driven at the RPC level, so it is very encouraging to see the achievements of the companies.”  

The ceremony also saw RPCs being recognized for their Good Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility activities. DCSL Group held Balangoda Plantations emerged the highest ranking company with regard to payment of Lease Rentals followed by Maturata Plantations and Kotagala Plantations. Hapugastenne Plantations of the James Finlay Group, Balangoda Plantations and Talawakele Tea Estates secured awards for 'Forestry Management, Environmental Friendliness and Self-sufficiency in Energy'. Finlays  currently manage 2,792 hectares of forests which comprise of 1,653 hectares of timber and fuel wood and 1,139 hectares  of protected conservation forest areas.  Elpitiya, Pussellawa and Kelani Valley Plantations bagged awards for being committed to generate hydro power, based on the annual generation of power from the plants in operation at the respective estates.

Kelani Valley Plantations also bagged the top award for 'Highest Investment for Social Welfare activities and Corporate Social Responsibility', while Kahawatte and Watawala Plantations followed. Provision of basic facilities to workers such as re-roofing of line rooms, latrines, drinking water facilities, Child Development Centers and the total investment made during 2006-2010 for worker welfare activities were among the criteria for the award. 

Released in Aug 2012