Mrs. Chandrika Subasinghe, 38 years old, and her husband have 4 children aged 10 to 21 years and live in a remote village in the Kandy District. In this part of the island, the rainy and chilly climate conditions are ideal for tea planting. Chandrika’s family was granted 2 acres of abandoned land by the government. The land had been lying unproductive after bad tea planting methods during colonial times. The family had to work hard to make the land fertile again, using proper soil conservation methods and a good tea seeds’ selection.
In 2006, Chandrika joined the village group Proboda Kantha Samithiya that was supported by the administrative division of Doluwa’s Women’s Development Officer in the Kandy District. Through this group, she managed to get 8 consecutive loans from ECLOF. Chandrika’s husband is a mason and their children are going to school but they all help her when needed. Her mother aged 70 years also still plucks tea at times. Each loan was used to further extend her tea planting by adding additional plots, and after many years of hard work, they have a total of 1.5 acres of cultivated tea land.
Today, around 60 – 70 kg of raw leaves is plucked weekly, and 90 – 100 kg during the peak season, and they are sold directly to a nearby tea factory. Recently tea prices have increased to approximately USD 18 per kilogram which gives a monthly income around USD 160, completed by the sale of pepper and cloves that they also cultivate on their lands. Thanks to this income, Chandrika is able to afford her children’s educational expenses. She says : “This is the joy I have that I was able to give to my children an opportunity I didn’t have, now my dream is fulfilled. And I even manage to save money for the future.”
As the demand for tea is growing rapidly, Chandrika plans to use her next loan to start a tea plant nursery. And with a broad smile she goes on : “In the 12 past years, the ECLOF funds have helped us turn our gardens greener than the past dry brown earth ; and this whole area is now filled with a beautiful aroma. Our lives are brighter and full of hope!”