Investigation of Debilitation of Tea and Technology Adoption in Small Holders in Mathugama Division in Kalutara District, Sri Lanka
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Tea is the main foreign exchange earning crop in Sri Lanka, which provides greater strength to the national economy. Smallholders are the major producers of the tea industry. It was reported that tea bushes in some smallholdings in low-country tea growing region were debilitated. This study attempted to examine whether such debilitation exists in tea in Mathugama division and identify the attributes. Fifty smallholdings were selected for the study. Data were collected through the interviews and field observation and analysed using descriptive statistics, pool t-test and chi-square test. About 50% of the sample has shown light to moderate level of stress symptoms mainly dieback and dwindling of new shoot development, dispersed up to 30% of the land area. However, T-test revealed that stress symptoms have no impact on tea yield. Only canker and wood-rot diseases were found in a relatively high percentage of the sample but at low or moderate intensity. The parasitic nematode infestation was detected in a considerable percentage of smallholdings. Statistical analysis revealed that except nematode infestation, no any other pest or diseases condition associated with the stress condition. Further, it was revealed that growers’ technology adoption levels were poor for many important good agricultural practices. A negative association between soil rehabilitation and stress condition have also been detected. Although it was viewed that tea smallholdings in the region are in a safe position with respect to the debilitation, certain important indication revealed in the study should also be considered in implementing the extension program in the future.