The Cabinet of Ministers recently approved the proposal to re-establish the Spices and Allied Products Marketing Board which had been inactive for the past 12 years.
The proposal was submitted by the Minister of Plantation Industries with the backing of the State Ministry of Development of Minor Crops including sugarcane, maize, cashew, pepper, cinnamon, clove, betel related industries, and export promotion.
The State Information Department noted that the Ministry has identified the need for a formal mechanism to develop the country’s Spices and Allied products sector.
The Spices and Allied Products Marketing Board was established under Section 2 of the State Agricultural Co-operations Act No 11 of 1972.
However, the cabinet of Ministers on July 16, 2008, decided that the activities carried out by the board should be handed over to the Department of Agriculture and the institution should be closed from July 27, 2008.
The Spices and Allied Products Marketing Board currently falls under the purview of the State Ministry of Development of Minor Crops including sugarcane, maize, cashew, pepper, cinnamon, clove, betel related industries, and export promotion.
The decision to re-establish the Spices and Allied Products Marketing Board is aimed at further boosting the government’s initiatives to support small scale farmers who produce spices and allied products.
Once re-established, the Spices and Allied Products Marketing Board is expected to play an instrumental in the development of small-scale businesses, supporting farmers, promoting spice production, providing facilities for spice trade as well as increasing export earnings.
At present, the Spices and Allied products industry is dominated by small scale businesses accounting for over 70% of cultivated land. Sri Lanka annually exports over 30000 MT of various kinds of spices.
Sri Lankan spice industry is mainly dominated by cinnamon and pepper while other minor crops include cardamom, cloves, nutmeg vanilla, turmeric, etc. The spices and allied products and essential oil sector accounts for 56 percent of the countries under agriculture commodities exports.
The government imposed a ban on re-exporting of some of the key spices in order to protect the small-scale farmers and business owners while tackling spice re-exporting racket operating in the region, which allegedly mixes low quality imported spices with Sri Lankan spices to re-export into some of the key markets such as India under existing preferential tariff regimes.