Sri Lankan government focuses on boosting spice exports
President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa has reportedly called on government agencies to work closely to boost spice exports with higher components of value addition and new markets thereby enhancing farmers’ income.
The President has issued this directive at a recent meeting with representatives from the spice industry held to assess the challenges and opportunities faced by producers and exporters.
Senior officials representing Sri Lanka’s Export Development Board (EDB), Department of Commerce, Export Agricultural Department and spice producers and exporters had participated at the meeting.
Acording to reports, the engagement was part of the President’s continuous dialogue with key economic sectors post-COVID-19 to better respond to suggestions on how best respective industries can be revived, boosting domestic production and exports.
“We had a cordial meeting with the President and officials of the Government agencies. The President is keen to strengthen domestic production and exports,” Spices and Allied Products Producers and Traders Association (SAPPTA) President Chairman Vernon Abeyratne has told the Daily FT.
President Rajapaksa has requested the spice industry to develop products with higher components of value addition without exporting them in bulk form.
“President wants us to add value to our products in the form of powder, oil as well as find new sophisticated markets to sell these finished products; instead of exporting in bulk, raw form for better foreign earnings,” Abeyratne has noted.
The President has also inquired the spice industry particularly on the reduced pepper prices at present and the possibilities of getting a higher price for pepper exports.
“The pepper prices have reduced due to two key factors which include the low world market price due to excess pepper production in Vietnam and India’s minimum import price of Rs. 500 per kilogram fixed to curb imports from Sri Lanka. As a result the current pepper prices vary between Rs. 500 to Rs. 525 per kilogram,” Abeyratne has pointed out.
The industry has also discussed the availability of machines such as freeze drying machines for pepper and other facilities to increase production and value additions, where President Gotabaya has assured support for all the assistance required to uplift the spice industry in the coming years.
According to reports, in 2019, Sri Lanka had exported close to 15,000 metric tons of black pepper worth closely US$ 200 million and is targeting to export 20,000 metric tonnes of black pepper this year which will be around US$ 250 million as per the current world market prices.
The government of Sri Lanka is focussed on promoting the agriculture sector with special focus on agriculture exports. Incentives have been offered to businesses engaged in cultivating spices. Also, Sri Lanka has many trade agreements as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the country, which in turn have supported the exports sector. Therefore Sri Lanka’s spice manufacturing and exports sectors have shown an increase in business/investment opportunities.