Fruit promotion exhibition and festival kicks off

Thursday, 9 July 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


By Waruni Paranagamage

The Sri Lanka Fruit Promotion Exhibition and Fruit Festival, organised by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in collaboration with the Fruit Crops Research and Development Centre (FCRDC), kicked off yesterday at the FCRDC in Horana under the patronage of MoA Secretary B. Wijeyarathne. 

The key objective of the exhibition is to increase productivity in processes contributing to the satisfaction of local and international demand for fruits and improve the quality of these fruits. The exhibition was well attended with over 1000 participants recorded by the end of the day. 

Organisers told the Daily FT that the event would be a platform for Sri Lankans to obtain knowledge on fruit agriculture from government and private companies, while they also will be able to purchase high yielding fruit plants, fruit products such as cordial, fertiliser and agrochemicals. 

According to data from the Export Development Board (EDB) and Ministry of Agriculture, the fresh fruit export market has declined in May compared to the same period last year. 

Earnings have declined by $ 32.80 million in May 2015. Fresh fruit export earnings declined from $ 44.32 million in May 2014 to $ 11.52 million in May 2015. 

The Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Dr. Rohan, said that at the exhibition they had introduced technical solutions for home grading to control fruit fly and melon fly populations.   

“We were warned by the Europe Union (EU) last November for exporting fruits damaged by fruit flies and melon flies. The quality of exported fruits is being improved after introducing pest controls for mango, banana and pineapple. These new technologies and various other new methods are now available at the exhibition,” Dr. Wijekoon added.

The recommended daily intake of fruits is 200 grams but Sri Lankans consume a smaller quantity. Sri Lanka is among the most reputed countries in Asia for growing the best varieties of fruits and boasts more than 200 varieties that are suitable for consumption including nutritious fruits like mango, jackfruit, papaya, pineapple, banana, avocado, orange and guava. The Maldives, United Arab Emirate (UAE), Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the US and Japan are major destinations for Sri Lankan fresh fruits.

According to ministry reports, fruit cultivation in Sri Lanka has spread over 150,000 plus hectares in the country but 90% comprises home gardening. Due to poor planning, the contribution to national development by fruit production is still poor. Increasing effectiveness of fruit cultivation, the quality of products and meeting the demand for such fruits are key issues that the industry needs to address immediately.

“Superintendents in coconut estates have also been invited for the exhibition to introduce the mix cultivation: coconut alone with fruits. The total land area covered by coconut cultivations is 395,000 hectares in Sri Lanka. The mix cultivation system will produce more production and more money for farmers,” Wijekoon asserted.

The Director General said that many rare fruit varieties such as Nellil and Kabilla were also available at the exhibition. 

He further asserted that fruits such as wood apple, beli, uguressa, katu anoda, gadu guda, passion fruit and pomegranate were used to treat cancer and other ailments. He pointed out that these indigenous fruits, especially those used for medicinal purposes, had strong demand in foreign countries.

Guidance on grafting, budding and home gardening methods, getting harvest in the offseason, plant rehabilitation methods, harvesting and storage methods and fruit selling will be provided through training programs, seminars and the self-employment unit at the exhibition. fasfasdf

Projects on producing fruits during the offseason, intercropping under estate cultivation and including flowering during the offseason as well as the increasing fruit consumption through schools will also be held. 

Knowledge-sharing will be carried out through fruit technology stalls manned by both state and private sector organisations. Growers from the private sector, key players in the fruit industry, financial institutes and the beauty culture industry will showcase new technology, while video clips on fruits and fruit shows will be displayed and there will also be fruit gardens to enable participants to see and taste the fruits. 

The exhibition will be open until 12 July at the FCRDC in Horana.