The coconut sector in Sri Lanka showcased a 56 percent growth in export earnings to record Rs. 7,417 million from the export of coconut products in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the corresponding period in 2008.
This achievement was possible despite the global recession and prevailing negative sentiments. Although a number of coconut kernel based industries were hit badly due to the severe shortage of raw materials during the first quarter of 2008, it improved after May 2008 and the supply situation remained favourable over the remaining period in 2008 and during the first quarter of 2009.
Chairman, Coconut Development Authority (CDA) Keerthisiri Weerasinghe said that this significant achievement was further strengthened by the implementation of industry favourable policy framework under the Mahinda Chinthanaya, initiatives, facilitated by the CDA and conducive international market scenario.
Sri Lanka is considered one of the leading manufacturers of coconut products in the world apart from the Philippines, Indonesia and India.
Sri Lankan coconut is well accepted in the world market for its unique sweet taste and pleasant smell. At the same time Sri Lanka accounts for the largest per capita consumer of coconut in the world and coconut is used as a major source of protein and fat.
Sri Lanka exports about 30 major categories of coconut products to over 100 countries.
In addition to kernel products Sri Lanka is also well recognized in the world market for coir fibre products and the demand for coir fibre products increased over the past few years due to the concern over environmentally friendly products and the demand driven by rapid growth of the emerging markets, especially China.
The export performance of coconut kernel based products over the period under review showcased a substantial growth by 107 percent in value and the foreign exchange earnings from this segment amounted to Rs. 3.5 billion against Rs. 1.7 billion in 2008.
Among the coconut kernel based products Desiccated Coconut (DC) exports over the first quarter of 2009 amounted to Rs. 1,739 million, a 246 percent increase against Rs. 503 million in the previous year.
At the same time the volume of Desiccated coconut exported during the period under review surged by 369 percent compared to the corresponding period in 2008.
Meanwhile, coconut oil, coconut milk powder and poonac exports showcased a 318 percent, 111 percent and 237 percent increase in volume terms as against the corresponding period of the previous year.
The major importers of DC were Dubai, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Enhanced activity in the coconut oil industry resulted in an improved supply and export of coconut poonac.
The production of coconut oil in the country continue to showcase an increasing trend since 2005.
The production of coconut oil in 2005 was 20,000 mt and it increased to 75,945 mt in 2007.
The conducive market climate for coir fibre continued in 2009. The fast emerging economy in China again acted as the major driving force of the sector.
Although China imported a large quantity of fibre in raw form the Chinese market continued to keep the sector active.