Celebrating the masterful skill and unwavering commitment to quality that fuels Sri Lanka’s world-renowned tea, Hayleys Plantations, a trailblazer in sustainable agri-business, successfully concluded its second annual ‘Best Tea Harvester’ Competition for 2023.
Organised across Kelani Valley Plantations (KVPL), Talawakelle Tea Estates (TTEL) and Horana Plantations (HPL) the contest is designed to showcase and celebrate the dedication and hard work of the Hayleys Plantations team.
Notably, this year’s contest was revived based on popular demand from employees themselves, following a two-year hiatus brought about by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
R. Seethayammah from Somerset Estate of Talawakelle Tea Estates PLC was crowned as the Best Tea Harvester for 2023 from across the entire Hayleys Plantations sector, in addition to winning the Gold Award for Talawakelle Tea Estates PLC after she harvested an incredible 10.42 Kgs in just twenty minutes, receiving the highest score of 82.6%.
“I am so happy to have won the competition and I want to thank our estate managers, Dr. Roshan Rajadurai and Hayleys for giving us extra training on how to improve our harvesting and the chance to take part. My family and friends have been supporting me and giving encouragement throughout,” Seethayammah said taking home her cash prize of Rs. 300,000.
S. Gomathi from Batlgalla Estate took home the Gold Award for Kelani Valley Tea Plantations, while M. Vigneshwary from Alton Estates took home the Gold Award for Horana Plantations. Hayleys Plantations offered all Gold Award winners with a cash prize of Rs. 100,000, Silver Award with Rs. 75,000 and Rs. 50,000 for the Bronze Award.
The expert Judging Panel consisted of industry specialists from the Tea Research Institute and the senior management of Hayleys Plantations. Competitors were judged based on the quantity and quality of tea they plucked in a set time, and the care they took in maintaining the tea bushes during harvesting.
“Our people are the backbone of our business, and it is our responsibility to acknowledge and reward their unwavering commitment, hard work, and talent. Today Sri Lanka’s tea industry faces significant environmental, social and economic challenges. Despite these issues, the industry continues to play an essential role in generating export revenue for the nation. The survival and continued development of tea is therefore a national imperative. That is why Hayleys is leading by example, and continuously investing in the upliftment of our tea harvesters and their families, in order to secure a brighter future for our people,”Hayleys Chairman and Chief Executive Mohan Pandithage said.
Following the competition, a special awards ceremony was hosted by Hayleys Plantations at Radella Cricket Ground, Nuwara Eliya to felicitate its winning contestants, and all who participated in this year’s contest.
“The remarkable performance of our employees today provides a glimpse into the true potential of Sri Lankan tea. The Hayleys Group’s vision for the future of plantations is built around the needs and aspirations of our employees, and singularly focused on sustainable productivity enhancement across every facet of the business. Our focus on long-term sustainable development is applied across all our estates, with special emphasis on empowerment of our tea harvesters.
“The Best Tea Harvester competition is part of a series of structured programmes we conduct to recognize, support and encourage the hard work of our people. We are also providing a healthy living environment while ensuring access to quality health and nutrition, while empowering the community and its youth. These efforts are critical for the success of our business. However, they are also helping to chart a sustainable new path to success for Sri Lankan tea,” Hayleys Plantations Managing Director Dr. Roshan Rajadurai said.
Hayleys Plantations was also the first in its industry in Sri Lanka to offer field officers the NVQ certification for the National Skills Passport in order to advance their technical expertise. Similarly the company also hosted Sri Lanka’s first Plantations Management Symposium to enable knowledge sharing on innovation and emerging best practices across estate management. Hayleys Plantation companies have also initiated Mother and Child Friendly Plantations polices, and continue to win global and local acclaim for their proven track record, and setting of new benchmarks in ethical and sustainable plantations management.
The Hayleys Plantations Best Tea Harvester Competition draws its inspiration from a similar contest organized by the Sri Lanka Tea Board in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Ceylon Tea in 2018. Hayleys Plantations boldly decided to carry forward the competition within its estates based on the positive response from its employees.
Winners were chosen from the preliminary stages of the competition held at tea estates across the Group’s three subsidiaries, KVPL, TTEL and HPL. The winner of each company after that competed in a tense finale amidst a cheering crowd.