Move to woo youth to cinnamon industry | Sunday Observer

Move to woo youth to cinnamon industry

Activities at the training academy for cinnamon technicians in Kosgoda is picking up. File pic: Lake House Media Library
Activities at the training academy for cinnamon technicians in Kosgoda is picking up. File pic: Lake House Media Library

The term ‘cinnamon peeler’ will be changed to ‘cinnamon technician’ to bring dignity to the profession and the move is expected to attract young blood to the industry which is facing a severe dearth of workers, Immediate Past Chairman, Spice Council, Nanda B. Kohona said.

The cinnamon industry is grappling with many issues, including a huge shortage of peelers as youngsters do not find peeling an appealing career. However, activities at the training academy for cinnamon technicians in Kosgoda are picking up and the students show an interest in learning the work, he said.

The Ministry of Science and Development hopes to provide the NVQ qualification to those who complete the training course. Those who are interested in the subject could follow the course.

The academy has become an important centre for plantation companies to train their workers.

The training has also provided an opportunity for women workers to remain in the country and earn a decent wage while looking after their families, instead of going to the Middle East to work as housemaids.

The government has taken measures to improve the spice sector through a holistic approach. This move is expected to benefit industrialists who, for a long period, have been hit by the high labour costs, low productivity and a lack of technical know-how, he said.

“There is a huge demand for Sri Lanka’s cinnamon, especially, the organic certified products in the global market. We need to introduce a proper marketing campaign to promote the product in the international market while branding spices to obtain a premium price,” Kohona said.“The branding campaign, ‘born in Sri Lanka’, has helped local spices to gain international recognition.

We should also look at the value addition aspect to make the maximum use of our spices which are of high quality,” he said.

The stakeholders of the spice industry should be provided with technology, funding facilities and equipment to improve productivity and value addition. It is also important to provide other facilities and concessions including a one-stop-shop to meet all the needs of the exporters.

The Ministry of Primary Industries plans to launch a market access program and also provide new machinery for value addition and make quality products for the local and international markers. The Geographic Indication (GI) for Ceylon Cinnamon needs to be scaled up to reach certain niche markets. GI tagged cinnamon will be sent to the European market.

The importance of working as a team under one institution such as the Spice Board to streamline activities and to provide enabling environment, was highlighted.

“There have been certain quality control issues in the recent past. Our standards have not been consistent. Certification issuance is not regulated. These need to be addressed. With regard to pepper, the country produces 23,000 metric tonnes per annum which is more than the quantity of cinnamon production. “However, local consumption is only 3-4 metric tonnes. There is a big demand for our pepper in the international market. Vietnam is the largest producer of pepper, but its quality is not as good as ours. We need to capitalise on this and earn more foreign exchange with value addition,” he said.