Poverty headcount ratio at $3.20 a day (2011 PPP) (% of population)
Varies by sector and industry.
Equivalent to 23,785 Sri Lankan rupees per worker per month.
Global Living Wage Coalition, 2019
Employment in agriculture (% of total employment) (modeled ILO estimate)
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing, value added (% of GDP)
Sri Lanka has a population of nearly 22 million people, with 81% of its inhabitants living in rural areas and the rest 19% in urban centres. The agricultural sector employs a quarter of the workforce and accounts for 7% of the nation's GDP.
Agriculture is highly important for Sri Lanka's economy and roughly 44% of the country's land is used for agricultural production. Yet, agriculture in Sri Lanka is characterised by low levels of mechanization and productivity. Smallholders are responsible for around 70% of the total tea production, the most important export in Sri Lanka, and still they account for half of the poor rural people.
The top commodities produced in Sri Lanka are rice, coconuts, plantains, sugar cane, and mangoes, while arranged by export quantity the top commodities are tea, fibre crops, wheat, nuts, and coconuts. 
The minimum wage in Sri Lanka varies greatly by sector. But in the near future, it is expected that a minimum wage of 10,000 Sri Lanka Rupee (43 EUR) per month will be set for all sectors. Regardless of the minimum wage, Sri Lanka's authorities have not been effective in protecting labour rights or securing basic working conditions. Worker protections are not enforced in the informal sector, nor in all formal sectors.
The Global Living Wage Coalition has developed a living wage benchmark for the tea estate sector in Sri Lanka.
The living wage benchmark has been estimated at 23,785 Sri Lankan Rupees (103 EUR) per month based on a family of 4.5 with 1.76 full-time workers. Tea is a major commodity in Sri Lanka, both nationally and for export, and is mainly grown on large tea estates in mountainous regions in the middle of the country. Tea estates are defined as plantations with more than 20 acres and a minimum of 10 workers and it is estimated that around 20 million Sri Lankans live on such estates. The wages of tea workers vary according to their role and if they are pluckers, it depends on the amount of their daily collection. Thus, there is a considerable difference between the prevailing wages for most workers on the tea plantations and the estimated living wage for the tea estate sector.
Living wage estimate for workers in Sri Lanka’s tea sector to be able to afford a basic but decent living standard. Global Living Wage Coalition, 2019.
This ILO report promotes understanding of the role of smallholder farmers in tea value chains, the state of decent work, and the implications for future work in Sri Lanka's tea sector.
This Fair Labor Association report assesses factory wages, mainly from garment workers, in 21 countries to help buyers and suppliers move toward better compensation.