Export of fruits and vegetables :
Huge potential untapped
Sector poised to be the most vibrant:
In keeping with all other desired development in the country we are
positive that we could emerge as the most vibrant sector next year.
This is mainly due to the existing markets. What needs to be done is
to produce quality and quantity desired by the end users, said
Secretary, Fruits and Vegetable Exporters’ Association of Sri Lanka
The world market for vegetables and fruits is huge. Sri Lankan
exporters have not tapped the potential and only three percent of the
world demand is met by the country, he said.
“We have the opportunity to develop this sector as we are
strategically located mid way between the Gulf and South East Asia.
The quality of our products and the skilled and efficient labour
force are the plus factors whereas lack of proper planning in
cultivation and improper transportation network are drawbacks”, he said.
Our Association has targeted a Poly Tunnel project comprising a
minimum of 500 tunnels with the assistance of the Export Development
Board in the Uva Paranagama area.
The Government will set up three collecting centres under the
Northern Development program.
This will help the product to be delivered in an accepted manner, he
“We are trying to move Sri Lankan products from the concept of a back
garden agricultural policy to a more planned progressive market-oriented
It is necessary to bring in professionalism starting from the quality
of seeds and fertilizer to the handling of the final product. This will
help overcome pre-harvest and post- harvest losses.
Although, we are a developing country, the price an average person
pays per kilogramme in towns is in dollars.
All exporters and intermediaries are faced with the problem of an
inadequate supply of export grade products.
We have started a program to educate the farmer and grower community
with various new technology which is now available in other countries
such as India and Thailand.
The Association has tied up with the Sri Lanka Thai Chamber of
Commerce to introduce Thai expertise and technology direct to the farmer
community. This project will benefit our export market in the next three
to five years.
Solving the North and the East problem has opened a major window of
potential for our sector. In the past 10 - 12 years we only heard that
products came from the North, but never saw it.
However, since May 18 we have witnessed a major influx of products
coming to the Central and Western provinces. Most importantly, the
purchase price of such products is friendly towards the producer and
We are certain the members of the export fraternity have already made
plans and visited the North to invest for the future growth of our
When the East opened we did the same with certain niche products such
as pineapples and bananas. The development of infrastructure including
transport will be a boost to the export sector, he said.
The main markets for our exports are the Maldives, Middle East and
Europe. However, the current worldwide recession severely affected the
buying power of the ultimate buyer resulting in a downturn of nearly 40
percent year on year up to now.
In addition, the devaluation of the Indian Rupee and Thai Baht have
made their products much cheaper in the world market. Despite all odds
Sri Lankan exporters have kept the market intact although losing
volumes, he said.
The assistance provided by this export sector to other service
providers such as carton manufacturers, logistic agents and the airlines
which is not highlighted when determining the strength of the sector has
undermined the value of this sector, he said.
The sector growth can be seen by the increase in the number of export
companies to the Maldives from three to 25 in recent years.
This shows that the growth available is untapped in the region mainly
in the Gulf where we have built a name as a reliable supplier of quality
products, he said.