Agriculture Sector In Sri Lanka

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The agriculture sector is one of the most prominent sectors and the cornerstone in Sri Lanka 's economy with more than 72% of the population living in rural areas depending on agriculture for their livelihoods (Central bank of Sri Lanka, 2012a).

Agriculture sector contributes about 11.1 percent to the national GDP of Sri Lanka. Agriculture sector comprises with general agriculture including plantation and non-plantation crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries sub sectors. The fisheries, livestock, and forestry subsectors account for 1.3%, 0.8% and 0.6% of the national GDP respectively (Central Bank, 2012).

Fruits and vegetables (F & V) are two important sub sectors in the Sri Lankan agricultural economy where about eighty (80) different
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Less than 4 per cent of total production of fruits and vegetables undergo some sort of added-value in the form of export, processing or marketing to the high value market through supermarkets (Esham and Usami, 2006).

At present, Sri Lanka’s fruits and vegetables mainly (90% of the production) serve the domestic market and they are consumed widely in fresh form without a significant value addition. There is only a small percentage (about 10-12%) supplied to industrial factories and export, in which export portion accounts for less than 7% of the total production volume (Export Development Board, 2012).

Agriculture sector accounts for 23.9 percent of the national export earnings. Major export earning generators in the agricultural sector are the traditional exports from the plantation sector that cover about 19% of the national exports. Vegetables, fruits, cut flowers & Foliage, Spices & Essential oils exports contribute for nearly 3% and fisheries products contribute for about 1.8% (Central Bank,
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Moreover, the growth in the agriculture sector has been sluggish. A rapid increase in both productivity and growth in the agricultural sector is fundamental for reducing poverty in Sri Lanka as nearly 90 per cent of the poor live in the rural agricultural economy.

Recognizing the importance of enhancing the productivity of agricultural sector, the government in its 5 year plan for 2011–2015 “Mahinda Chintana Vision for the Future” and in its “Budget Speech 2013” has stated various agricultural development programs under “Divi neguma” and also proposed to allocate abandoned paddy land to cultivate short term fruits and vegetables.

At present F&V are mainly grown by the semi commercialized small farmers whose individual extent of land does not exceed a hectare. With a view to enhance F & V production, private sector involvement in commercial cultivation too has been encouraged by the Sri Lankan Government with support from “Contract growing” farmers (Expo Sri Lanka,

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