Enriching agriculture exports

Wednesday, 24 May 2023 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A sizable majority of Sri Lanka’s population earns a living via agriculture. Outside of the plantation sector, small landholder farmers predominate in Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector. More than 90% of farmers in Sri Lanka, according to the Department of Census and Statistics, have less than 2 hectares of arable land. In Sri Lanka’s economy, the agricultural sector, which includes the cattle industry, is quite significant. More than 30% of the population is employed by it, which makes up 7.4% of the GDP. 

The balance of the nation’s international commerce has been hampered by Sri Lanka’s overreliance on the agriculture industry. A country’s capacity to attain a good international trade balance may be hampered by undue reliance on natural resources, even though agriculture contributes significantly to the economy and employs a considerable number of people. Sri Lanka’s agriculture policies have centered on developing organic farming practices.

In the past, farmers were instructed to apply a certain quantity of ash on their rice fields as organic fertilizer. According to a precise estimate, each acre of paddy field should produce 75 kg of ash from burning husk and 150 kg of ash from burning wood. Therefore, a mix of unsustainable practices with an unstable balance away from other premium finished goods along the supply chain, has Sri Lanka in a desperate fix.

Despite having a significant impact on Sri Lanka’s economy, agriculture confronts a number of obstacles as well as potential prospects. The negative consequences of climate change, such as erratic rainfall patterns and rising temperatures, have already been felt in Sri Lanka. The productivity and sustainability of agriculture are severely hampered by these problems. 

Modern technology adoption and infrastructural improvements for agriculture can boost the industry’s production and effectiveness. Agriculture may expand with the help of investments in irrigation infrastructure, farm equipment, and access to cutting-edge farming methods.

Export diversification is hampered by reliance on agricultural exports. When a large part of exports is concentrated in a single industry, like agriculture, the nation is more susceptible to changes in demand and price for commodities on a worldwide scale. Any disruptions or declines in the agriculture market may have a significant influence on the nation’s export revenues, which would harm the balance of international trade. 

Second, the agriculture industry frequently experiences issues with production and little value addition. The majority of Sri Lanka’s agricultural exports are unprocessed or barely processed goods. Without adding value, the nation loses out on chances to seize higher-value markets and boost export earnings. This lack of value addition and diversity makes it difficult for the nation to balance its international commerce.

Finding new markets for Sri Lankan agricultural goods can be achieved by promoting trade agreements and exploring global markets. Farmer earnings may increase and export prospects may help the economy as a whole flourish. The importance of small landholder farmers, the sector’s contribution to GDP, and the emphasis on organic farming methods are all reflected in the condition of agriculture in Sri Lanka. 

Despite the difficulties caused by climate change, there are chances for expansion through market access, infrastructural development, and the use of new technologies. Agriculture in Sri Lanka may have a sustainable and successful future with continued efforts to help farmers, enhance agricultural techniques, and investigate new markets.

To solve the problem, Sri Lanka must expand the markets for its non-agricultural exports and diversify its export market. This involves spending money on infrastructure, research and development, and technical breakthroughs to boost productivity and competitiveness in a variety of industries. Sri Lanka can improve its international trade balance, create a robust and sustainable economy, and reduce its over-reliance on agriculture by promoting a more diversified economy.