May 22, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is to import copra, or dried coconut kernel, to feed the country’s oil mills which are facing high prices and raw material shortfalls, a senior minister said. The cabinet of ministers had approved the import of 45,000 tonnes of metric tonnes of copra to the country, information minister Anura Yapa said.
The request to import copra was made by plantation industries minister D M Jayaratne to increase coconut oil production amidst an increasing trend to adulterate coconut oil with palm oil and other types of oil, he said.
Sri Lanka’s coconut prices have been rising along with high domestic inflation which was over 25 percent in April.
Sri Lanka restricts the import of raw nuts to prevent disease entering the country.
The island’s coconut product exporters – including those making desiccated coconut – have called on the government to cut import duties on coconut oil to free more nuts for their industries.
Sri Lanka has been trying to import various products including rice, in a bid to reduce inflation which is lower in the rest of the world than in the island.