Sri Lanka wants to become self sufficient in sugar: Ravi

Oct 20, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka will deploy new initiatives to become self-sufficient in sugar manufacture, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said in a statement.

Plans are underway to increase sugarcane cultivation and set up of 15 new manufacturing plants in the country, the statement said.

The project will be implemented under two stages. Under the first stage the country expects to manufacture 50 percent of its sugar requirement locally by 2020.

Karunanayake said Cabinet has already approved the new sugar manufacture development project and the policy framework proposed.

There are four sugar factories engaged in the industry and they annually manufacture 56,000 metric tons of sugar, but compared with the country’s annual sugar consumption of 700,000 metric tons, the local production is just eight percent.

Sugar industry at its inception was a public enterprise in 1950 but local production didn’t improve sufficiently due to deterioration of sugarcane cultivation and low efficiency of factory performance.

The second project under the long term basis will be implemented with the participation of the private sector to make the country self-sufficient in sugar by 2025.

There are several sugar factories engaged in manufacturing and they come under the purview of different ministries. In addition to the current 26,000 hectares owned by the prevailing four sugar manufacturing factories, another 31,000 hectares of land should be cultivated by 2020, the statement said.

It has been calculated that a total number of 102,000 hectares should be cultivated to make the country self-sufficient in sugar.

The Cabinet Sub-committee chaired by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake has studied this proposal in depth and made recommendations for the project. Other members of this Cabinet Sub-committee are: Ministers Rishard Badi Udin, Daya Gamage, Rauff Hakeem, P. Harison, Vijith Vijithamuni, Ranjith Maddumabandara and kabeer Hashim.

104,000 hectares of cultivable land have already been identified in the districts of Moneragala, Batticaloa, Kilinochchi, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Ampara, Badulla and Polonnaruwa. The same Cabinet Sub-committee has also recommended setting up of 15 new factories to manufacture sugar and other byproducts.

It has also been decided to introduce a cultivation system which would accommodate the minor cultivators in the respective areas to enable them to enjoy benefits of the proposed sugar manufacturing project. Every farmer family which joins this system will be able to earn a minimum 30,000 rupees per month under this project.

Sri Lanka spends 35 billion rupees annually to import 644,000 metric tons of sugar which can be saved in foreign exchange.

“In addition, several byproducts will also be manufactured and subsequent to this, the current production cost of 98 rupees per kilogram for byproducts will be reduced to 70 rupees per kilogram.”

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said that as a result of this process, consumers will be able to buy sugar at lower prices.

This national sugar manufacturing development plan includes a framework to maintain a quality sugarcane cultivation system, introduce a reasonable consumer price through maintaining a stable sugar market price, provide necessary infrastructure to improve the irrigation for the cultivation and introduce a policy of labor force development mechanism to empower the laborers in the industry, the statement said.