Sri Lanka’s Plantation Industries Minister presents plan to rejuvenate export agricultural sector
Daily FT: Plantation Industries Minister, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana unveiled a comprehensive plan to revitalize the export agricultural sector with an income of $ 2.8 billion from tea, rubber, coconut, and cinnamon in 2023.
He revealed that the country aims to export 290 million kilograms of tea, whilst earning an income of $ 1.2 billion within the current year, whilst anticipating generating $ 900 million from rubber and rubber-related exports and $ 700 million from coconut and coconut-related exports.
Speaking to journalists at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC), he said the industry, which suffered setbacks in 2022, has been handed a lifeline with Government interventions and strategic initiatives.
“The fertilizer crisis, coupled with unfavorable weather patterns, dealt a blow to the plantation industry, triggering a decline in production and overall output. The steep surge in the price of urea fertilizer which skyrocketed to Rs. 30,000 for a 50 kg bag now reduced to Rs. 9,000 thanks to the initiatives introduced by the Government,” he said.
Amid these circumstances, the Minister is anticipating around 290 million kilos of tea and an income similar to $ 1.2 billion recorded in 2022.
However, he said the ongoing crises and conflicts faced by key tea markets, such as Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine, have impacted exports adversely.
In a bid to boost tea production and support tea estate workers, Minister Pathirana said the Government has decided to allocate 10 perch land, with potential land ownership opportunities and credit facilities for constructing necessary housing, providing a promising future for those engaged in the industry.
“Cabinet approval has now been received to provide 10 perches of land to the tea plantation workers. Accordingly, the relevant land ownership is to be given to them in the future,” he added.
He also said the Government is gearing up to mark World Coconut Day on 2 September 2 by launching the second Coconut Triangle in the Northern Province spanning the districts of Jaffna, Mannar and Mullaitivu. He said the ambitious initiative aims to generate a substantial $2 billion in export revenue from coconut-related products.
“The coconut industry is experiencing a robust upswing, driven by the growing demand for a variety of coconut-related products such as milk, substrate, and activated carbon. This trend is expected to translate into an impressive $ 700 million in export income from coconut products this year alone,” he added.
Minister Pathirana also said the past two years have yielded remarkable returns from rubber and rubber-related exports, raking in $ 1 billion in income. However, he explained the current global economic downturn has driven down demand and prices for rubber products, leading to a projected export income of $ 900 million in 2023.
Noting that Sri Lanka has secured the coveted Geographical Index (GI) certification for cinnamon cultivation, he said it helped to position Sri Lanka as one of the two producers of the world’s finest cinnamon, paving the way for enhanced export prospects.
He insisted that the exporters use GI certification for cinnamon to expand their value-added exports.
Outlining plans on revitalizing coffee cultivation in Sri Lanka, he said the Ministry will begin a 1000-acre coffee plantation.
“Although coffee cultivation predates tea in Sri Lanka, past setbacks forced farmers to shift focus. Yet, recognizing coffee’s untapped potential, a 1000-acre coffee plantation project has been initiated to revive this historical trade and to reclaim its place in the global spotlight,” Minister Pathirana said.
Sri Lanka’s export agriculture sector is a fast-growing sector that has presented new business/investment opportunities to discerning foreign businesses/investors. The many trade agreements as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the country pose an added advantage for Sri Lanka’s exports sector. The move by the authorities to further diversify the existing export product portfolio and to explore new foreign markets have also helped expand Sri Lanka’s export agriculture sector. The government of Sri Lanka has also introduced a host of incentives to foreign businesses/investors interested in investing in the country’s export agriculture sector. With the overall expansion of Sri Lanka’s agriculture industry, especially in the export agriculture sector, foreign businesses/investors could confidently explore the expanding opportunities this sector.
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