Pepper farmers benefit from good prices
Pepper farmers have benefited from increased farm gate prices with pepper trading at around Rs. 150 per kg sometime back, now selling at around Rs 350 per kg, according to Sarada De Silva, Chairman of The Spice Council.He told the council’s AGM that this has extremely benefited producers in the districts for Matale, Kandy, Kegalle, Badulla and Ratnapura.
|Picture shows - Prof. Jayasiri Lankage, Treasurer, The Spice Council, D A Perera, new Chairman, The Spice Council, Hemakumara Nanayakkara, Minister of Agriculture, Sarada de Silva, Chairman, The Spice Council, Ms. Rebecca Cohn, Mission Director, USAID and Dhammika Gunasekara, Vice Chairman The Spice Council.
He said with sound agronomic practices and investment, it is easily possible to double or even treble the current yield per hectare of 500 kilos. In competing countries like Malaysia and Vietnam yields of over 2500 kilos per hectare have been achieved.Cinnamon is the largest spice exported accounting for 50 percent of volume and 60 percent of value. Producers in the districts of Galle, Matara, Ratnapura, Kalutara and Hambantota have benefited from the 30 percent increase in the farm gate price during the past 18 months. The national average yield per hectare is around 500 kilos.
There are plantations that achieve 1000 kilos per hectare. “The demand from overseas markets has increased but we are unable to meet this increased demand due to the acute shortage of cinnamon peelers.
If adequate peelers are available we can increase our production by 30 percent in the short term and increase export earnings by another US$20 million or Rs.2250 million,” De Silva said.
He said the council has assisted Wijith Jayatilleka to set up a model Good Manufacturing Processing Centre for Cinnamon in Kosgoda, this being the first of its kind for cinnamon in the world.
The council has also set up a model spice processing and training unit in Gallekoluwa, a remote village in Matale.
The farmers have grouped together into a company with investments from them as well as the council.
The council has also worked with GTZ Promotion of Micro Small and Medium Enterprise Development on a proposal of the Spice Council to establish a Cinnamon Training Academy. All private sector funding is in place and awaiting the release of Rs. 3 million from the Export Development Board.
De Silva stated that he is happy to announce that the industry have been successful in defending the Cinnamom Zeylanicum name in the International Standards Organisation’s Cinnamon standard. Due to untiring efforts of Professor Jayasiri Lankage representing the Spice Council and SAPPTA as the only Sri Lankan delegate, he had to single handedly defend Sri Lanka at the meeting in Paris.
About 350 acres of cardamom in Maturata is affected by an attack from pests. This is not the first time such a thing has happened. He said the whole area needs to be sprayed with insecticide for it to be controlled.
D. A. Perera, Chairman/Managing Director of EOAS International (Pvt) Ltd was elected as the new chairman of The Spice Council. In his with insecticide speech Perera said he will particularly look at increasing exports of value added spices.