The Rostchild Coffee Plantation, Pussellawa (Ceylon). 4 February 1868
Artist: Leighton, Stanley (1837-1901)
Medium: Pencil on paper
Pencil drawing of the Rosthchild Coffee Plantation at Pussellawa in Sri Lanka, by Stanley Leighton (1837-1901), dated 4th February 1868. The image is inscribed on the mount in pencil as above.
Although today known for its tea exports, the mainstay of Sri Lanka's economy was once coffee. The Dutch experimented with seedlings from their Javanese plantations, but the coffee crop did not grow well at the lower elevations of the coastal regions. It was the British who successfully introduced coffee crops to Sri Lanka with their access to the interior of the island. The higher plateaus and peaks were rapidly annexed and deforested and by 1867 coffee covered over 100,000 acres of the island's hill country. In 1869 a leaf disease spread through the plantations and decimated the coffee crop, which forced the British to focus on other exportable commodities. As a result, the acreage was converted to tea plantations, as it remains today.