Sri Lanka exports around 25 varieties of fruits and 40 varieties of vegetables, out of more than 80 varieties of tropical, subtropical and temperate fruits and vegetables grown in different agro climatic zones. Although availability of most fruits are seasonal, vegetables are generally available throughout the year. In 2008 the country earned US $ 38.3 Mn. by exporting 35,800 MT of fresh, semi-processed and processed fruits and vegetables to more than 25 destinations around the world. It is estimated that only about 1 – 2 % of the total annual production is exported from Sri Lanka.
The Country has established two overseas markets, which account for approximately 72% of the fresh fruits and vegetable exports. These are Maldives Island and the Middle East. Between these markets Maldives iSLAND that is the closest accounts for 35% of exports mainly consisting of up country vegetables (carrot, cabbage, leeks, tomatoes, beans etc). The Middle East market comprising six countries is the major importer of Pineapples, along with (large volumes of) low country vegetables (green mango, green papaya, snake gourd, bitter gourd, green chilies, manioc, kiri-ala)
Europe and other countries account for around 25% of exports of fresh fruits and vegetables. These exports cater mainly to the ethnic population. United Kingdom is an important market for low country vegetables. Germany for fruits and Switzerland for both fresh fruits and vegetables. Pakistan imports large quantities of tamarind.
Major markets for Sri Lanka’s processed fruits and vegetables are Europe and the Continental countries. Gherkins in brine and vinegar contribute around 50% of the export earnings from the processed fruit and vegetable sector. Products such as canned fruits, fruit juices, jams, vegetables in brine, and dehydrated fruits have a large market potential due to the inherent characteristics of the products.
Expansion of the Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetable production in Sri Lanka mainly revolves around small farm units. The exporters obtain their supplies mainly through organized cluster at village level. Currently, some exporters have ventured out to rural areas to obtain their supplies. They have encouraged small farmers to cultivate on contract to supplement the farm products.
EDB has recently implemented a number of pogrammes to increase the production and marketing based on Agro Zones.
To encourage exporters to initiate their own commercial farms in the provinces, the EDB has introduced several financial assistance schemes to provide finance for the supply chain development programmes. Already large volume of fruits and vegetables have been exported from these investments. These projects not only ensure quality supplies at competitive prices but also provide considerable rural employment.
To achieve a target of increasing present export levels by 10% each year, the EDB has formulated integrated export development plans for supply development, product development and adaptation, infrastructure development, export support services, test marketing and market development. These programmes will be carried out in collaboration with other specialized institutions and the exporters.