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Sunday, 23 October 2011

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Sri Lanka produces the best fruits– LIRNEasia:

Pineapples, a viable export production

Sri Lankas' pineapples are among the best in the world and has a high commercial value although it is not supported and promoted adequately in the country, a research conducted by LIRNEasia revealed.

According to experts Sri Lanka produces some of the finest pineapples in the world which has a huge potential for a major export market. Sri Lankan pineapples are in demand as they are nutritious and delicious.

LIRNEasia Research Manager, Nilusha Kapugama said that pineapple cultivation in Sri Lanka is neglected although it is a commercially viable crop with enormous potential for an export market.

Sri Lanka is the 37th among pineapple producing countries. Brazil, Thailand, Philippines, Costa Rica and China are the top five pineapple producing countries. Pineapples in Sri Lanka are grown on 4,750 hectares producing around 35,000 mt/ year as an intercrop in the coconut triangle.

Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that seeds and plant material are provided to farmers under a program launched to increase pineapple cultivation in the country.

“Improved seed varieties have been identified at the Research station in Homagama which will provide the material to farmers”, the Minister said.

Pineapple cultivation in the country is primarily done by the private sector for the export of fruits, jam and juices.

“Pineapple production has increased steadily over the years and our main markets are USA, Maldives, Middle East and Europe”, Agriculture Ministry sources said.

Around 90 percent of pineapples are cultivated in the Gampaha and Kurunegala districts providing a livelihood to a large number of people. Export of fruits and vegetables still account for less than one percent of the total exports in the country.

Pineapples botanically known as Ananas Comosus originate from South America and it is native to South Brazil and Paraguay. The popular varieties are Smooth Cayenne (Sarawak or Kew), Queen, Red Spanish and Mauritius.

The common variety in Sri Lanka is ‘Mauritius’ which is a ‘Queen’ type with spiny leaves, yellow-kernel and excellent flavour. Pineapples are enjoyed as a fresh fruit by locals and foreigners.

Kapugama said that Sri Lanka should promote high density planting and intensive management to boost pineapple cultivation in the country.

Pineapple cultivators in Sri Lanka face many challenges due to the scarcity of land, healthy suckers and the absence of high yielding cultivation methods. The high cost of fertiliser is a major factor that affects the cost of production.

Kapugama said that due to the problems faced by pineapple cultivators exporters and pineapple-based product manufacturers are adversely affected. “There should be a proper mechanism to obtain information on pineapple sucker providers based on their reputation”, Kapugama said.

She said that it is essential to promote good practices in pineapple cultivation and added that a market should be created for the organic cultivation of pineapple.

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