Friday, August 19, 2011

Merrill J. Fernando

Merrill J. Fernando I have yet to meet but when people that personally know of the Tea Master my ears are all open. At the Las Vegas WTE this last June, Jane Pettigrew, known British author for" The New Tea Companion" with Bruce Richardson, came to the Dilmah booth to say hello. Sharing her fondness, respect, admiration as a friend and asking about Mr. Fernando's well being.  She gave us glimpses of her time in Sri Lanka with adventure and enthusiasm an inspiration to go on our voyage to Sri Lanka.  Someone piped in that she was interviewing Mr. Fernando. Well I have been waiting. Through World Tea News it was published.

  Dilmah to Showcase Its Unique Range of Teas at Prodexpo 2011
US based World Tea News highlighted people who have made the most significant contribution to the tea industry. British tea writer, Jane Pettigrew shared her insights on the Teamaker, who ‘devoted his life to tea’.
Tea People
Merrill J. Fernando: Founder and Philanthropist

08 Aug 2011
By Jane Pettigrew, World Tea News Contributor
Merrill Fernando, Founder and Chairman of Dilmah Tea and of the MJF Charitable Foundation, has been a dedicated tea man for more than 60 years. But he is so very much more than that! Through his tenacity, integrity, vision and generosity, he has changed the Ceylon tea industry for the better and, by investing profits back into that community, has improved the lives of countless people in his native Sri Lanka.
Born in May 1930, Merrill finished his education just as Ceylon gained its independence in February 1948. His ambition was to be a tea taster and to work in the industry that made his country famous. It was during school holidays that he began to think about his future and he explains: “I spent a lot of time on friends’ tea estates and came to understand the structure, the recruitment system, and the different jobs of the workers, the supervisors and the managers. I grew to love the tea industry, but I never imagined how things would turn out later!”
In 1950, he gained a place on a new scheme that, for the first time, allowed local young men to take up apprenticeships as trainee tea tasters. But when that came to an end, he could not break into an industry dominated by the British. Tasting remained closed to people like Merrill, no matter how talented they were. Instead he took a job in the oil business, biding his time until the right opening into the world of tea presented itself.