Sri Lanka’s Spice industry – a great success story


By Steve A. Morrell

Chairman, Spice Council, Sarada de Silva last week sounded optimism for the future of the spice industry, attributing its success to government policy which ensured all round assistance to the business.

This was clear collaboration of government and the private sector working jointly rather than at cross purposes. The end result was that the spice industry progressed and was able to compete successfully with more powerful producers in the South East Asian archipelago, he told the Council’s AGM.

De Silva said value added exports had increased. Essential oils surged forward with increases of about 157% recorded first half this year. Similarly, cinnamon ( Sri Lanka is the largest producer of Cinnamon responsible for about 90% of the world’s demand for this spice), increased its value added component by 81%. Overall, spice value addition had progressed to 32%.

Significantly, considering importance of the spice industry, a ministerial desk was allocated to the industry, and through assistance of the Minister, Reginald Cooray, Minister of Minor Crops, the industry progressed, he noted.

Minister Cooray, accentuating the need for value addition, said arrangements have now been made to establish an Institute to ensure value addition was not mere lip service to the concept but realistic application to tutoring persons on technical know – how. Also on what was necessary to ensure exports met stringent standards enforced by international market conditions.

Cooray said, sounding caution, the industry faced the problem of manpower shortages. Skilled workers were now scarce. He urged the Spice Council to address this problem which was now of urgent importance.

However infusing some optimism, he said technical needs for value addition was in its progressive stage and through UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), an Institute was now in its formation stage and would shortly be an active adjunct to the industry.

National Project Coordinator, UNIDO, Roshni Gunaratne in a brief presentation outlined assistance planned by the organization. She also said approximately $1.5 million was already allocated for establishment of the institute. Work was progressing well and realistically technical input required would be addressed and effectively applied.

He said value added products was key to ensure commercial production of marketable products to capture elements of the international market place. Such standards had to be met. His ministry was actively involved to ensure exports as demanded by international markets were attributed prominence.

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