Social Development and Labour Productivity: The Problem and a Solution for the Tea Plantation Sector of Sri Lanka

S. Dishanka and Y. Ikemoto


The critical bi-directional causality between social development of tea estate workers and their productivity has created a chronic vicious cycle, requiring a sustainable solution incorporating all the beneficiaries of this sector. The objective of this study is to evaluate the suitability and applicability of small-scale contract farming (CF) system as a sustainable solution for the labour related problems in tea plantations in Sri Lanka.  In achieving this objective, a conceptual justification to the solution has been established based on the empirical findings from the existing labour management system in tea plantations.. Questionnaire based interviews were conducted with both the management and the estate workers in selected Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs). Study findings reveal that poor socio-economic condition of workers, traditional work norms, lack of cooperativeness between workers and management, and management responsibility towards stockholders have adversely affected the labour productivity. Conclusively, we suggest that small-scale CF system would be a sustainable solution for these problems as it is attributed with equity, efficiency and empowerment tools which are significant but lacking in the existing system.


Keywords: Contract farming, Labour productivity, Regional plantation companies, Social development, Tea estate workersbutton