Focus on fruits in Sri Lanka next week

Monday, 14 July 2014 01:54 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Fruit Promotion Week from 14 July and fruit festival to increase consumption, healthy lifestyles By Waruni Paranagamage The Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Fruit Crops Research and Development Centre (FCRDC) will launch a fruit promotion week and fruit festival from 14 to 21 July. The event will be held at the premises of FCRDC in Horana with the participation of President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Chief Guest. The aim of the initiative is to promote consumption of fruits and healthy lifestyles and higher cultivation of fruits in the country. The recommended daily intake of fruits is 200 grams but Sri Lankans consume a lesser quantity per day. Sri Lanka is among the top countries in Asia which grows the best varieties of fruits and boasts more than 200 varieties that are suitable for consumption, including nutritious fruits like mango, jack fruit, papaw, pineapple, banana, avocado, orange and gauva. Fruits such as wood apple, bel, uguressa, katu anoda, gadu guda, passion fruit and pomegranate have the ability to control cancers and ensure good health. Today these indigenous fruits, especially those used for medicinal purposes, have good demand from foreign countries. 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. At present, increasing effectiveness of fruit cultivation as well as quality of the products and meeting the demand for such fruits are main issues that the industry needs to address. Another aspect is availability of fruits during the off season. Organisers of the event told the Daily FT that the event would be a platform for Sri Lankans to obtain knowledge on fruit agriculture from the Government and private operators, while they also will be able to purchase high quality fruit plants, fruit products such as cordial, fertiliser, planting materials and agro-chemicals. Guidance on grafting and budding methods, home gardening methods, getting harvest in the off season, plant rehabilitation methods, harvesting and storage methods, and fruit selling will be provided via training programs, seminars and the self-employment unit at the exhibition. Projects on producing fruits during the off season, intercropping under estate cultivation and including flowering during the off season as well as the increasing fruit consumption via schools will also be held. Knowledge sharing will be carried out via fruit technology stalls manned by both State and private sector organisations. The Mahaweli Authority, Ministry of Economic Development, Post Harvest Technology Institute and financial institutes will also participate in this event and newcomers to the field will be provided financial advice by experts. 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 organisers also intend to provide free fruit plants to selected farmers by initiating new fruit projects to increase the availability of fruits. The Ministry said that the farmers selected under the National Project for Rehabilitation of Fruit Plants in Sri Lanka, would be presented with field equipment by the President. The exhibition will be a valuable opportunity for farmers, investors, exporters, researchers, lecturers, nature lovers and tourists.