Sri Lanka's 'green gold’ brings wealth, health and happiness

Updated 03 February 2018
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Sri Lanka's 'green gold’ brings wealth, health and happiness

RIYADH: Sri Lanka, the fourth-largest tea producer in the world, is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the industry’s birth with the world’s largest “tea party.”

A “Global Ceylon Tea Party” was hosted at Sri Lankan missions worldwide, including its embassy in Riyadh, with government officials and tea industry representatives saluting tea’s place in the island’s history and modern economy.
Sri Lankan tea, known for generations as Ceylon tea, has a unique heritage. The industry that began as a diversification experiment in 1867 on just 19 acres of land has today expanded to supply 19 percent of global demand.
Known for its signature taste and aroma, Sri Lanka’s tea provides a major source of income for the country and is its leading employer. The island has a 5 percent share of global tea production and a 17 percent share of world tea exports.
Tea remains the backbone of the island’s economy, with annual export earnings averaging around $1.5 billion, or 15 percent of foreign exchange revenue.
With 65 percent of the export agricultural income, the tea industry contributes about 2 percent to the island’s gross domestic product. More than 2 million people are employed directly and indirectly, with 10 percent of the country’s population depending on “green gold” for its livelihood.
Sri Lanka was the first tea-producing country in the world to introduce national branding, with Ceylon tea linked to the lion logo. The brand remains a source of pride because of its global popularity and unmatchable quality.

Exceptional diversity
Although tea makes up almost 45 percent of all exports in value-added form, what makes Sri Lanka’s national product truly unique is not volume but exceptional diversity.
Tea plantations in Sri Lanka are categorized around three distinct elevations — high grown, medium grown and low grown. Teas are classified into seven agro-climatic regions, Nuwara Eliya, UdaPussellawa, Uva, Dimbulla, Kandy, Sabaragamuwa and Ruhuna, based on location.
Due to its diverse topography and climate, Sri Lanka produces an array of specialty teas with different flavors, aromas, strength, and color that are almost impossible to replicate.
Commercial secretary at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh, Gayan Rajapaksa, said the island’s tea was sold to the Saudi customers after blending it with tea from other countries.

High standards
Ceylon tea is also the cleanest tea in the world in terms of pesticide residues, according to the ISO Technical Committee responsible for quality assurance.
Sri Lanka was the first country to achieve the “Ozone Friendly Tea” label recognized under the Montreal Protocol Treaty and is the proud owner of the first Ethical Tea Brand of the World recognized by the UN Global Compact.
The lion trademark symbolizing pure Ceylon tea pre-packed in Sri Lanka has been registered in more than 100 countries by the Sri Lanka Tea Board, the government organization regulating and promoting the industry.
Retail packs that carry the trademark are guaranteed by the tea board to consist of 100 percent pure Ceylon tea pre-packed at source and conforming to standards set by the authorities.


Yemen FM: No peace before Houthi disarmament

The Arab coalition is striving to rebuild the humanity destroyed by the Houthis, says Yemen’s Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Yamani. File/Getty Images
Updated 26 May 2018
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Yemen FM: No peace before Houthi disarmament

  • Alongside military operations, the coalition is undertaking humanitarian work to “rebuild the humanity destroyed by the Houthis
  • The Houthis’ “weapons and missiles must be handed over, and there is no room for dialogue or negotiation about them

LONDON: There cannot be peace in Yemen unless Houthi militias abandon their arms, said the country’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Yamani.

The internationally recognized government will not allow Iran, which backs the Houthis, to maintain a foothold in Yemen or interfere in its internal affairs, he added.
“This terrorist regime” in Tehran, “which supplies terrorist militias all over the world, is close to collapse as a result of international and popular pressure by the Iranian people, who are suffering as their terrorist state spends billions here and there for a foolish expansionist idea,” Al-Yamani said.
“The modern and civilized world that respects international law cannot accept the existence of a state sponsor of terrorism and all subversive and terrorist militias in the region,” he added.
“If Iran wants to be part of the social, cultural and political fabric of our region, it must rationalize its behavior.” Its “terrorist behavior… encourages the spread of violence in the region,” he said.
Al-Yamani added that he will start his tenure as foreign minister by focusing on negotiations and the efforts of the UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths.
The government is working round the clock with the envoy’s office so he can present his ideas on June 7 after consultations with the government, Al-Yamani said.
There will be meetings in the next few days with Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and a special meeting with the negotiating team, all within the framework of the envoy’s efforts in the region, Al-Yamani added.
Griffiths has visited several countries in the region, and has met with Yemen’s government and the leadership of the Saudi-led Arab coalition.
The Houthis “suggest that political arrangements should come before security and military arrangements,” said Al-Yamani.
But “the coup against the state in January 2015 came as a result of the preference of political over security arrangements,” he added.
“And after the Houthis achieved their goals, they turned against the national consensus reflected in the peace and partnership agreement, under which the president provided facilities to save the homeland from the fate we have reached today,” Al-Yamani said.
“We cannot talk about any political arrangements because we consider them to be a foregone conclusion if we achieve the withdrawal and delivery of heavy and medium weapons and missiles,” he added. “We cannot retry something we tried before... The coup must end.”
The Houthis’ “weapons and missiles must be handed over, and there is no room for dialogue or negotiation about them,” he said. “Heavy and medium weapons should be handed over, and those militias must be withdrawn.”
Al-Yamani criticized Iran’s ambassador to the UN for speaking in dovish language while his country causes destruction in Yemen.
“Most of what we have been able to remove of the mines planted by the Houthis had the trademark of Iranian industry,” Al-Yamani said.
“Even if we achieve peace today, we will need decades to demine... There will be no possibility of safe living in the areas where mines were planted.”
Al-Yamani expressed the gratitude of his government and people for the Saudi-led coalition’s support for the government to achieve security and peace in Yemen and the whole region.
Alongside military operations, the coalition is undertaking humanitarian work to “rebuild the humanity destroyed by the Houthis, rebuild the Yemeni psyche destroyed by the war, distribute goods throughout Yemen, and reconstruct what was destroyed by the Houthi war machine,” he said.
“All this confirms that the project of restoring the state… is the project of life,” which is “opposed to the project of death brought by Iran and its Houthi militias to Yemen,” he added.
This interview is simultaneously published in Asharq Al-Awsat.