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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.


Zuraish Hashim

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 Zuraish Hashim.

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 said.

“We are trying to move Sri Lankan products from the concept of a back garden agricultural policy to a more planned progressive market-oriented commercial policy.

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 buyer.

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 products.

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.

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