- President directs Govt. agencies to coordinate more value addition
- Assures more support for machinery and other resources
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday called on Government agencies to work closely to boost spice exports with higher components of value addition and new markets thereby enhancing farmers’ income.
He gave this directive at a meeting with representatives from the spice industry yesterday to assess the challenges and opportunities faced by producers and exporters.
Top officials representing Export Development Board (EDB), Department of Commerce, Export Agricultural Department and spice producers and exporters participated at the meeting.
The engagement was part of the President’s continuous dialogue with key economic sectors post-COVID-19 to better respond to suggestions on how best respective industries can be revived, boosting domestic production and exports.
“We had a cordial meeting with the President and officials of the Government agencies. The President is keen to strengthen domestic production and exports,” Spices and Allied Products Producers and Traders Association (SAPPTA) President Chairman Vernon Abeyratne told the Daily FT.
President Rajapaksa has requested spice industry to develop products with higher component of value addition without exporting them in bulk form.
“President wants us to add value to our products in the form of powder, oil as well as find new sophisticated markets to sell these finished products; instead of exporting in bulk, raw form for better foreign earnings,” he added.
President has also inquired the spice industry particularly on the reduced pepper prices at present and the possibilities of getting a higher price for pepper exports.
“The pepper prices have reduced due to two key factors which includes the low world market price due to excess pepper production in Vietnam and India’s minimum import price of Rs. 500 per kilogram fixed to curb imports from Sri Lanka. As a result the current pepper prices vary between Rs. 500 to Rs. 525 per kilogram,” Abeyratne pointed out.
The industry has also discussed about the availability of machines such as freeze drying machines for pepper and other facilities to increase production and value additions, where President Gotabaya has assured support for all the assistance required to uplift the spice industry in the coming years.
In 2019, Sri Lanka exported close to 15,000 metric tons of black pepper worth closely $ 200 million and is targeting to export 20,000 metric tonnes of black pepper this year which will be around $ 250 million as per the current world market prices.