Minister of Plantation Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said at Lunuwila recently that Sri Lanka's export earnings from plantation crops will exceed the US $ 5 billion within the next year.
The Minister further stated that the present government has always encouraged Plantation Industry activities.
He said this at a ceremony held at the Lunuwila Coconut Research Institute recently.
The objective of the government is to promote coconut and allied products for local consumption as well as to earn a large export income. Revenue from coconut and allied products has so far exceeded the US $ 700 million this year. By the end of the year, we expect to receive the US $ 1 billion from coconut and related products.
By the end of the next year, coconut cultivation should be made the highest earning export crop in the country. Last year we earned about the US $ 600 million from the export of coconut and allied products. We confront the challenge of increasing this income to the US $ 1,000.
Also, our country earns about US $ 1.3 billion a year from tea cultivation. But that revenue has remained the same over the past few years. Through the activities such as value addition, we are working to increase our revenue from tea to the US $ 2 billion. In addition, our revenue from exports of rubber and related products exceeds the US $ 1 billion this year. It is a remarkable achievement for us.
We have issued gazette notifications including new laws especially regarding the felling of coconut trees. Accordingly, coconut trees cannot be cut down as one thinks now. In addition, inquiries regarding coconut cultivation can be made by calling 070 4001928 WhatsApp and 1928. When a photo related to certain diseases that occur in coconut plants is sent to the above WhatsApp number, we will give an immediate response in that regard.
Also, coconut cultivation has been permitted in paddy fields that have been vacant for more than five years. We have started a new method of producing coconut seedlings through tissue culture. This is the first time in the world that such a system has been implemented in our country. Palm (Katupol) cultivation was banned. Imports of palm oil were banned. We have taken a number of significant decisions to uplift the Plantation Industry.
In addition, the income from other export crops such as cinnamon and pepper is doubling compared to other years. Last year, our revenue from export crops such as cinnamon and pepper was US $ 400 million. But this year we have already earned the US $ 600 million.
Dr. Saranga Alahapperuma, Chairman of the Coconut Research Institute said.
By the end of the next two years, we hope to make the coconut industry the leader in the country's export economy. At present, about 70% of the total coconut production in the country is allocated for domestic consumption. Thirty per cent of it is wasted. Another 10 per cent is wasted due to animal and pest hazards. By avoiding this waste, large quantities of coconut and allied products can be exported.
The average annual harvest of a coconut tree in our country is around forty to fifty nuts. This needs to be further developed. We hope to introduce the most convenient methods for that.
Officials of the Lunuwila Coconut Research Institute were also present at the occasion.