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Sri Lanka coconut industries hit by nut shortfall

Dec 03, 2008 (LBO) - Sri Lankan coconut-based industries have been badly affected by the decreasing supply of nuts because of low yields and poor prices, plantations industries minister D M Jayaratne said.

"Almost stagnant or very marginal increase in coconut yield and decreasing supply of raw material to the industries has become a very serious issue for the coconut industry," Jayaratne said.

This has prompted the government to give priority to measures to increase production such as replanting and home gardening programmes, he said.

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They aim to plant 10 million coconut seedlings in the next two years.

Jayaratne said that last year Sri Lanka earned 24 million dollars from coconut exports.

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Coconut is grown on 392,000 hectares of agricultural land and supports the livelihood of nearly 700,000 small and marginal farmers.

Jayaratne said the global economic crisis and slowdown had reduced demand for coconut products, hurting Asia-Pacific coconut producing countries which earn revenue by exporting coconut-based products.

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"Import restrictions and poor market demand in importing countries will severely affect the economies of major coconut producing countries," he said.

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