Colombo, Dec 6: Sri Lanka’s tea exports will earn $1.3 billion in 2021, state media citing a top government regulator said on Monday.

Jayampathy Molligoda, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) which is the tea industry’s top regulatory and administrative body, said that exports had surpassed $1.2 billion by the end of November and would top $1.3 billion by the end of 2021, reports Xinhua news agency.

Molligoda was quoted in state-owned Daily News as saying that the tea industry sustains 500,000 smallholders, 135,000 estate workers, around 20 regional plantation companies, 590 tea factories as well as 280 tea exporters in Sri Lanka.

Speaking at the anniversary of the introduction of an e-auction system to the Colombo Tea Auction, Molligoda said that the digital system has helped the stabilisation of prices.

According to the Ministry of Finance, Sri Lanka earned $1.2 billion from tea exports in 2020, amounting to 12 per cent of the total export revenue.

Tea production is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. It employs, directly or indirectly, over 1 million people on tea plantations and estates.