Sri Lanka looking at saving forex through mandarin plantations
The Morning: Sri Lanka anticipates commencing mandarin orange plantations in the country in order to save the foreign exchange outflow of approximately Rs.1 billion per annum through mandarin imports, The Daily Morning learnt.
Speaking to The Daily Morning, Agriculture Ministry Media Secretary Dharma Wanninayake said: “A large number of mandarin fruits are imported to the country from China. In a single year, we spend around Rs. 1000 million on mandarine imports. Last year, with the import bans in place, it was a lesser number – around Rs. 400 million. But in previous years, sums of up to Rs. 800 million-Rs.900 million has been spent on mandarin orange imports.”
The Ministry further stated that they will be looking to export surpluses once the mandarin harvest satisfies domestic demand.
He added: “The project will be initiated within a few months where the key goal is the local markets. Additionally, we have requested the Agricultural Ministry for a report on the proposed expenditures. The project will use a portion of the funds allotted from the Budget.”
Although Sri Lanka currently cultivates a variety of citrus fruits, it is yet to attempt growing mandarin oranges. Recent research on mandarin plantations have revealed that the lower areas of Badulla, the Kandy District, and Nuwara Eliya are well-suited for the fruit to grow, which has resulted in the Ministry of Agriculture agreeing to provide the required funding.
Moreover, it is reported that the Agriculture Department is currently in possession of the required number of seedlings to commence the plantations. The department is expected to select farmers from the said areas and provide them with mandarin seedlings as well as the information and technology required in this regard.
The Government plans to cultivate a variety of crops to save dollar outflow, with certain projects having already commenced such as the cultivation of Hass avocado.
As per Volza’s data on Sri Lanka’s imports, orange – Nova mandarin import shipments to Sri Lanka stood at 16.6K, imported by 1,666 Sri Lanka importers from 2,051 suppliers. Sri Lanka imports most of its orange – Nova mandarin from India, China, and Egypt. The top three importers of orange – Nova mandarin are India with 358,551 shipments followed by the US with 320,740, and Vietnam with 229,360 shipments.
Sri Lanka’s agriculture industry has shown an expansion given the growing demand for food sustenance. The recent economic crisis and the possibility of facing a food crisis faced by Sri Lanka as a result has pushed the Sri Lankan authorities to focus on the agriculture sector with the aim of being food sufficient. This has opened a host of new business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s agriculture industry. Foreign businesses engaged in the agriculture business could explore the growing opportunities that include the supply of seeds, high yielding products, fertilizer, equipment, technical expertise to Sri Lanka’s agriculture industry. Given the many trade agreements as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the country, foreign businesses/investors could confidently explore the expanding opportunities in Sri Lanka’s agriculture industry since agriculture crops could also be exported.
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