Search This Blog

Monday, June 28, 2010



The current extent of organic farming expressed as a percentage of the total
There were 15,215 hectares of land under organic management in 2006, with a share of
total agricultural land of 0.65% and a presence of around 3,300 organic farms. However, the area
under certified organic was 10,050 hectares, which corresponds to about 0.43% of the total
agricultural area of the country in 2005. When compared with the average proportion of land
managed organically in Asia, which is 0.21% in 2005, Sri Lanka has a higher figure.
The nature of organic production
Organic production in Sri Lanka reaches both domestic market and export markets.
Figures related to the export production are available, but the actual figure regarding the domestic
market is uncertain.
According to the Export Development Board, as of 2000, 15 organizations, both private
and non government were responsible for exporting 753 metric tons of organic tea, spices,
essential oils, cashew, desiccated coconut, dried fruits, vegetables and herbs valued at S.L. Rs. 543
million. According to the organic directory published in 2006, the number of registered exporters
is 30, non governmental and farmer organizations number 34, the number of certified estates
number 20 and there are 177 independent growers who come under the umbrella of the
Department of Export Agriculture.
Organic crops grown in Sri Lanka
Crop Botanical name Product/s
Anona Annonna sp. Fruit/ Juice
Avacado Persia Americana Fruit
Banana Musa sp. Fruit
Cardamom Elettaria cardamomum Spice,
Cashew Anacardium
Chilli Capsicum sp. Spice/ Vegetable
Cinnamon Cinnamomum verum Spice
Citrus Citrus sp. Fruit/ Juice/ spice
Cloves Syzygium aromaticum Spices
Coconut Cocos nucifera Fresh nut/ Toddy/ Honey
Coffee Coffea arabica Beverage
Ginger Zingiber officinale Spice
Gotukola Centella asiatica
Hatwariya Asparagus racemosus Medicinal plant/ drink
Jack Fruit Artocarpus
Fruit/ vegetable/
dehydrated product
Kitul Caryiota urens Treacle/ toddy
Kurakkan Eleusine coracana Grain
Mango Mangifera indica Fruit/ drink
Nutmeg Myristica fragrans Spice
Papaya Carica papaya Fruit/ Juice
Passion fruit Passiflora spp. Fruit/ Juice
Pepper Piper nigrum Spice
Pineapple Ananas sativus Fruit/ Juice
Rambutang Nephelium lappacium Fruit
Tamarind Tamarindus indica Spice/ Fruit
Tea Camelia sinensis Beverage
Oryza spp. Grain
Turmeric Curcuma longa Spice
Vanilla Vanilla planifolia Spice
Sesamum spp. Grain
Sri Lanka has a civilization dating back to more than two thousand five hundred years,
which was based on agriculture determined by the rainfall and suitable soil conditions. The
agricultural practice of the people since the past to recent times was well inline with nature. Under
this traditional agricultural practice, organic agriculture was not a novel concept. It was based on
local resources and it was a non-chemical practice. The Kandyan home garden practices are one of
the best evidence for the cropping systems existed in Sri Lanka. The other important factor
regarding the traditional agriculture was that it was done for subsistence. Conservation farming
used indigenous knowledge and traditional agricultural equipments and tools. The systems
developed by the people was an efficient and effective system, with such elaborate practices such
as Kakulama in rice cultivation and Chena cultivation for field crops and crop rotation system,
agro-forestry system etc.
This situation changed during the last century, when the subsistence agriculture changed to
a market oriented agricultural productions. The use of chemicals was intensified after the green
revolution. The current conventional agricultural practice is a market oriented commercial
agriculture with high chemical usage. Subsistence farming has also uses increased amounts of
However, the modern organic agriculture which is practiced based on standards and
certification and oriented to produce for the markets. Modern organic agricultural movement was
initiated in early 1980s with the activities of local non-government organizations, with the
influence of foreign agricultural movements. Same time some of agriculturist who had friends in
out side the country they also bring these ideas to country. Business people like Mr.Dencil Zosa
who took risk and converted his plantation into organic, and there were good traditional farmers
who did not use any chemical or synthetic fertilizer.
In 1994, a group of like minded NGO activists, planters, scientists and environmental
activists created the movement named Lanka Organic Agriculture Movement (LOAM). This is a
crucial step towards organized movement on organic agriculture in Sri Lanka as the formation of
an umbrella body. The primary objectives of LOAM were to promote organic agriculture, to
establish, improve and maintain standards for organic agriculture and to create awareness of
organic products among the people of Sri Lanka. There are different other examples just like
private sector initiatives/network organizations involved in organic agriculture such as the recently
formed Small Organic Farmer Associations (SOFA), Lanka Organic Coconut Grover’s
Organic agriculture developed with the time, increasing the number of crops and area. In
1987 the first organic tea estates were certified in Sri Lanka. At present there are more than 15
projects with a variety of more than 20 crops are involved in growing, processing and trading
certified organic products. The area under certified organic agriculture has increased from a total
land area of 3,700 hectares in 1998 to 10,050 hectares in 2005, which corresponds to 0.43% of the
total agricultural area.
The most important stakeholders and /or alliances
There are two major groups in modern organic agriculture movement in Sri Lanka, which
could be distinguished since the beginning. The first group included smallholders consisting of
individual farmers who were working closely with the NGOs. They were sometimes organized as
special groups or cooperatives or societies to fulfil their objectives.
The other group included private companies which were running large scale productions
with larger plantations. These ventures oriented with export market were keen on modernizing the
sector with issues such as standards and certification.
Describe situations which had a negative impact
There was time with political support with good initiation to the overall sector but after that
political support lost the election all the initiation were lost. Just like Organic product council, it is
the first time govt body was involved to make national standard for the sector. But some of people
who claimed that is not the body should do officially stranded it is under the Sri Lanka Stranded
Institution which is the responsible. Some of people who involve that process with their voluntary
work haven’t properly evaluated. Some of recently started work not properly work out due to lack
of transparency and Govt control agenda’s. Good example is EU-SLOP project funded by
European Union. Due that two reason some of partners withdraw their contribution to project.
Lessons learnt about sector development: background situation/factors, strategies
and actions.
There are many lessons with sector. Whole success came trough people strength those who involve
the process. There are no any govt involvements or support for beginning to the sector. But with
all stockholders support sector is not going ahead as past. There should be govt strong section
where they can work closely with other stockholders.
Domestic market
Domestic market for organic agricultural products mainly consists to the urban and
educated communities and it is a growing market. Supermarkets are the most dominant market
method for organic products. However, there is a demand among the general public and also in the
rural areas, where the production is consumed.
Main export markets
Bulk of the volume of organic agricultural products is exported. Major export destinations
include European countries, USA, Japan and Australia. The market in the Middle East is also a
growing one.
In product scenario Sri Lanka is a leading exporter in organic coconut oil, spices and a
sizable exporter of organic tea.
Distinguishing features of domestic and export markets
The export market oriented production, which requires proper certifications internationally
accepted are mainly supplied by private companies, numbering to 30. However, domestic market
is provided companies, individuals and organizations.
The export products mainly consist if tea and spices. The domestic market is dominated by
fruits, fruit drinks, rice verities etc.
Critical factors for effective market initiatives. Problems and/or less successful
initiatives and how they were solved.
There are some good market initiatives which are functioning with individual capacities. Fair trade
groups, going as social businesses. Many NGOs and charity organisations are involving for
marketing of their beneficiaries products. With supporters in north, Private Company like
BioFoods done very good initiative which is SOFA. SOFA is Small Organic Farmers Association
those who supplying organic and Fair trade product to the Bio food. SOFA having very good
internal control system which you can’t expect from farmers.
Consumer awareness building: successful marketing and consumer
information/education initiatives. Why successful? Examples of unsuccessful
initiatives and reasons for failure. Contacts with media and importance.
Consumer awareness as a sector is not very good. But most of the time Companies when they want
to have publicity giving opportunity to media. But there are no strong campaigns for consumer
awareness. With all environmental, health and other problems giving good opportunity to organic
sector for go forward in local market.
The use of standards and certification for domestic market development.
Modern organic agriculture is a market oriented and production has to adhere to certain
standards or at least accepted norms in cultivation methods and practices. Although this is an
essential in the export market, sstandards and certification has been used in a limited impact for the
domestic market development. However, certified products have an advantage in the domestic
market too.
Producers have used terms such as ‘no chemicals used’, ‘non toxic’ etc to highlight their
products. Some organic products are marketed with other marketing advantages such as traditional
rice varieties which have a high demand.
Certification could change the market situation within the target customers who are
educated crowds increasingly paying attention on such measures. Marketing and awareness of
organic products should be increased.
Strategies and tools used for image and confidence building
Providing a substantial subsidy for the organic growers could be a vital measure for the
development of the sector. Also an insurance scheme for the growers could provide important
Driving forces for market development
Main driving force behind the growing organic sector is the increasing demand for the
products, mainly in the foreign destinations.
A main reason for the growing domestic market based supermarkets is due to the increased
awareness of the health benefits of organic products and the ill effects of chemicals used in
conventional agriculture. NGOs, traditional medical practitioners and sales circles are also a
driving force in the local market in a lesser scale. Lanka Organic Agriculture Movement is one of
such organization which is a driving force behind the event.
Government organizations such as Export Development Board, Department of Export
Agriculture had been engaged in promoting exports could be mentioned as driving forces.
Effective tools and resources for market development
Proper certification and standards is the most effective tool which could be used for
market development, both for domestic and export markets. Proper marketing methods and
increased awareness on the benefits of organic products could be considered as a useful tool.
Lessons learnt regarding market development
A key issue in the organic sector is the problem of establishing a continuous product from
seasonal crop harvest to ensure the supply to the markets.
General Agriculture Policy
Present Agriculture policy (2007) not mentioning any thing about Organic Agriculture. But they
are talking about Organic fertilizer. The Ministry of Agriculture had get back of their feet. In
previous policy was clearly said that Organic Agriculture is growing sector in Sri Lanka. It should
be promoted and Developed by the involvement with govt Ministry of Agriculture. Policy maker’s
wants to get prove what the advantages of the organic Farming; it has to come out trough the
research canters of the Agriculture Department.
Discriminates against organic agriculture
Following are some examples which could be identified as discriminates against organic
1. Fertilizer subsidies: Successive governments were providing chemical fertilizers at a
low price with financial substantial subsidies. This was a setback in promoting organic
2. Still govt high level policy makers not well aware about the Organic Agriculture and
its advantages
Supports organic farming
After a long negligence of the organic sector, the Government has taken steps to provide
some incentives for the sector. A decision to provide a subsidy for the organic fertilizer
manufacturing sector is an example. Although the amount allocated is far lower than the amount
for the non-organic sector, this is not the encouraging initiative.
Government involvement in organic farming
The key government stakeholders important for the development of policy are Ministry of
Agriculture and Departments such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Export
Agriculture. There are other agencies such as Export Development Board.
The organic sector was long neglected by the Government and their involvement was
restricted to trainings and awareness on some issues. The lack of government involvement was
identified as one of the limiting factors in the development of organic agriculture. However,
private sector and NGOs were continuously taking efforts to get state sector involved. Eventually,
Government initiatives became prominent only in the past few years.
The inclusion of organic agriculture in the National Agricultural Policy in 2003 was a
major achievement. Government has recognized the sector to be supported as a ‘thrust area’ for
economic development in year 2004. This was done considering the export potential and positive
environmental impacts.
Measures taken by the government
1. Creating the national standard
2. Providing a fertilizer subsidy for the organic sector.
Other policy initiatives
Other government policy initiatives concerned about organic agriculture. The Ministry if
Environment and Natural Resources was one such government institution initiated policy
developments related to organic agriculture. The National Environmental Action Plan (1998-
2001), prepared by the Ministry of Forestry and Environment, included few innovative
conservation farming technologies and institutional approaches for agriculture. This was aimed to
provide high economic benefits and protection for the environment.
Further to this, the Ministry of Environment was influential in preparing the guidelines for
standards in 2005.
There are some initiative on active now under Agriculture Department. There are now helping
other institutions to work. Apart from that there is Good committee under the National Science
Foundation called Sustainable Agriculture committee. There are bringing this idea to sciencetific
community. Business sector are trying to get more opportunities. But other infrastructure not
properly Developed, Specially like Banks, they don’t have any single credit facility to Organic
farmers or who are doing business. From PVT sector some joint initiative works vary well.
Specially SOFA is the creation of BIO Foods.
The driving forces for policy development
NGOs and the private sector were the key driving forces behind policy development in
organic agriculture in Sri Lanka.
LOAM played a major role in policy development and it has successfully influenced
Government policy. It was engaged in preparation of guidelines (2005) and also development of
standards for organic agriculture (2007).
Lessons learnt about policy initiatives regarding organic farming.
Organic product council was good initiative which is led by global affairs division of environment
ministry. It has all focus for sector. Lanka Organic Agriculture Movement is one of main body
which is working for policy of the organic sector. Past years it played major roll in the sector.
Institutional structures
The institutional structure could be in three major components;
1. Producers: Individuals and private sector companies are the main groups of
producers. In many cases, these individual farmers are grouped under NGOs or farmer
associations or cooperative bodies.
2. Organizations/ Associations: Organizations have played a key role in the organic
sector. These include farmer associations; community based organizations as well as
non-government organizations. Some of these work broadly on organic sector, but
some target specific crops such as cultivation of traditional rice varieties.
3. National Movements: Lanka Organic Agriculture Movement founded in 1994 is
the pioneering association related to the policy development. Small Organic Farmer
Association (SOFA) is a recently formed association of organic farmers who are
engaged in the industry in small scale.
Strategy and lobby work
Lobbying was a major issue for the development of the sector. Integration of organic
agriculture to the National Agricultural Policy in 2001 was a major achievement. Also the
guidelines for certification, which were prepared in 2005 is a result of lobbying of NGOs.
Lessons learnt regarding organisation and relationships between different partners.
Successive governments were positive regarding the developing the sector as the officials
were well coordinating with the other stakeholders.
Also private sector was having a good relationship with the movements as well as the
In research sector, universities and government research institutions were sharing the
experiences with the other stakeholders. Number of universities has initiated various courses on
organic agriculture and some have integrated organic agriculture to their syllabuses.
Organic standards development
Standards are one of the important aspects for the development of organic sector. Since the
first international regulation of Regulation EEC N0 2092/91 which was drawn up in 1991 and
implemented in 1992 is the first international regulation in world.
Efforts were taken to initiate a standard in Sri Lanka since early 1990s. A number of
discussions, workshops were held among the stakeholders, efforts were made to include the state
sector etc. An initiative in 1996 finalised a preliminary draft set of standards for organic
production, which was.
LOAM and other voluntary groups have developed a set of guidelines for standards in
organic production and processing, which was published by the Ministry of Environment and
Natural Resources in 2005. However, this was not a mandatory regulation.
Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLSI) has prepared a national organic standard, which will
start to function in 2008. This will be the first national level certification programme for organic
production and processing in Sri Lanka.
However, Sri Lanka lacks a nationally (accredited) organic certification system and a
national certification body. Currently, the private sector and government cooperate in setting up a
national certification body in Sri Lanka through a project mainly supported by the EU small grants
Certification bodies
There is no accredited certification or standards available for domestic market. The SLSI
standard described above will be the pioneering standard, with a certification body. However,
products certified by the international certification agencies for export markets are available in
domestic market too.
There are seven certification agencies who carryout certification for organic export
products. These are according to regulations of European Union, National Organic Program –
NOP of USDA and Japanese Agriculture Standards (JAS). Some of these agencies have local
inspectors for the inspection process.
At present following seven international certification agencies operate in Sri Lanka.
1. Control Union (SKAL, Netherlands)
2. NASAA, Australia
3. Naturland, Germany
4. Institute for Market Ecology – IMO, Switzerland
5. EcoCert, Germany
6. Organic Farmers and Growers Ltd, United Kingdom
7. Demeter and BioSuisse, Switzerland
Internal control system for organic smallholder farmers is commonly practiced by
certifiers in Sri Lanka. This is under the supervision of the particular certification company. This
task is a challenging one due to the area and scattering nature of organic plots.
There some initiatives happening with Participatory Guaranty System as a NGO
There are no any local certification body yet. That was the one of main objective in EU-SLOP
Project. They have registered company under the EDB for organic product certification (Sri
Lanka Institute for Organic Certification - SLIOC). But it seems also for export product. It
hasn’t any contact for local consumers. There are trying to work with local market. Same times
there are group of NGOs trying to work on Local Certification issues. They also form a company
called SRICERT. There are working for specially rice, tea and spice farmers. Still there are no big
demands from local consumers for certification.
The role of standards, certification and regulation in market development.
Standards and certification will be beneficial for the development of both domestic and
export market. Our Standard are fallowed all international standard like EU, OPD
Lessons learnt
High cost was a drawback regarding the introduction of standards. Small scale producers
such as farmers cannot afford the high cost of the certification. Instead the group certification
could be used, but the global circumstances related to this can hinder the development.
The availability of a national standard and a national certification body could reduce the
costs associated with the certification which will improve the sector development.
The negligence of the government in making standards and institutionalising a
certification body is a drawback for the development.
Available capacity building and extension options
NGOs and other associations are engaged in capacity building and extension options for
past with the support of agencies like LOAM and other organizations. There is a need for this as
modern organic agriculture differs from the traditional practice in certain aspects. Recently there
are other agencies such as universities involved in these activities.
Important stakeholders and their roles
Universities play a major role in research and education on organic agriculture. Four
universities which offer agriculture courses have initiated courses in sustainable agriculture. These
are namely University of Ruhuna, University of Peradeniya, Eastern University and
Sabaragamuwa University. Further more, some have integrated organic agriculture to the existing
syllabuses. Lobbying by some NGOs helped for this initiation.
Universities, research institutions and NGOs carry out research activities on organic
agriculture. In some cases, influence of some enthusiastic individuals is the main reason for this.
Private sector companies do have their own research and development work.
NGOs play an important part in extension activities which mostly reaches the grassroots
level of the sector, the farmers.
Lessons learnt
Addiction to the conventional agriculture and the commercial level agriculture during the
last 3-4 decades is a drawback in the sector development. Educating farmers and making them
understood of the benefits of organic agriculture (for them, consumers and agriculture) is a huge
task. Educating the youth can be an effective tool in such cases.
Continuous awareness is a requirement in education.

No comments:

Post a Comment