Areca Nuts

The fruit of the Areca palm, commonly called as areca nut, is mainly used for chewing with betel leaf in almost all South Asian Countries and in Many South East Asian and Oceanic countries. It is a mild stimulant cause a mild hot sensation to the body. Nut is used both in fresh and dried forms. In Pakistan and India Fresh nut are cut and flavored to produce different products. In China and India Areca nut is used in the preparation of Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicines.

In Sri Lanka areca nut is largely grown in the wet zone and wetter part of the Intermediate zone. However a small acreage of areca palms can be seen in the dry zone too especially near large water lakes and along waterways. Total extent of Areca nut in Sri Lanka is estimated to be about 12533Ha. Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Ratnapura, Badulla and Matale districts are the major growing districts. Almost all areca nut palms are grown in home gardens or as mixed cultivations and little commercial cultivation can be found.

In 2020, Sri Lanka was ranked 4th with the share in export of 9.10%. In 2020, Sri Lanka was ranked 19th with the share in import of 0.12%. In 2019, Sri Lanka was ranked 6th with the share in production of 3.11%.

The current harvest from the areca nuts palms is at around 1 Million nuts and expected revenue is between RS 2.8 – 3.5 Mn per annum. (Increase of annual yield by 0.3% expected)

Black Pepper

Black pepper (Piper nigrum L.), known as the “King of Spices”, is the most important and widely used spice in the world. Pepper production is confined to a few countries in Asia including Sri Lanka and the Pacific, Brazil and Madagascar.

Currently, Sri Lanka ranks at fifth place in terms of area under pepper cultivation (after India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Brazil), and seventh place in terms of production, with a world share of 5.7% in production. Also, Sri Lanka is the fifth largest exporter of black pepper, after Vietnam, Brazil, Indonesia, and India. However, productivity levels in the industry remain low,  despite improvements seen over the years.

Sri Lankan pepper, like other spices from the island, is well-known for its superior inherent properties. For example, Sri Lankan pepper has higher piperine content, which gives it a superior quality and pungency. Piperine content in Sri Lankan black pepper is two to six times higher than in other countries.

In Sri Lanka, pepper is cultivated in the wet and intermediate agro ecological zones, in the mid and low country regions, mostly by small holders. Most of the smallholders grow pepper in their own small plots of land (home gardens), which are less than 20 acres or 8.1 hectares. Apart from cultivating pepper in their own lands, harvesting of pepper is also done by farmers, with the help of hired labour; some (sun/machine) dry their harvest and sell, while others dispose it in a fresh form. A majority of the farmers sell their product to village collectors or shops in the town, which are important intermediaries in the pepper value chain.

The current revenue generation from the black pepper harvest is at around Rs 1.3 Mn per annum. (Increase of annual yield by 0.5% expected)

Bananas

Banana is an important crop grown in Sri Lanka and there is a dearth of information on its genetic diversity to assist in crop breeding and improvement programs. It is one of the prominent cultivation fruits in the country and at present, approximately 54 per cent of the total fruit cultivation lands are used to cultivate Banana. In Sri Lanka 29 banana cultivars and two wild species have been reported. Five of those are cooking types and the rest except the two wild species are dessert types. Although bananas occupy the largest cultivated area among fruits cultivation in Sri Lanka it is primarily grown on small subsistence farms (plots of less than 0.25 ha). In addition to be a major food staple, bananas are an important source of income, with excess production sold in local markets (approximately 43 per cent).

At present, banana productivity is about 13 Mt/ha in the country. However, this amount is very low when comparing with major banana growing countries of the world where average productivity is recorded as 45-50 Mt/ha. It has become an attractive perennial fruit crop for farmers in the country due to its relatively high economic gains throughout the year. Currently, nearly 60,000 hectares of land is under banana cultivation in the country and annual banana production is around 780,000 metric tons. However, from the total production there are about 35-45 per cent under post-harvest losses and export amount is approximately 5 per cent (Department of Census and Statistics 2014).

In Sri Lanka banana is the only fruit crop, which is available throughout the year and consumption rate is also higher than any other fruits. Major Districts of cultivating banana in the country are Kurunagala, Rathnapua, Hambantota, Monaragala, Ampara and Jaffna. Generally, banana plants are found throughout the country in most of the rural homesteads.

The current revenue generation from the bananas harvest is at around Rs.0.4 Mn per annum. (Increase of annual yield by 0.7% expected)

Rambutan

Rambutan is a medium-sized, tropical, evergreen tree belonging to the Sapindaceae family. It is native to South-East Asia and originates from Malaysia. This fruit tree is related to other edible tropical fruit trees such as: Lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.), Longan (Dimocarpus longan Lour.) and Mamoncillo (Melicoccus bijugatus Jacq.), all of which belong to the Sapindaceae family (Simons et al., 2005). While the tree serves multi-purpose uses, it is mainly cultivated for the sweet and juicy flesh of the fruit. Although its precise natural distribution is unknown, most of the global production for rambutan is concentrated in the region of SouthEast Asia. Countries such as Australia, China, Cameroon, the United States, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, have also started cultivating rambutan (Simons et al., 2005).

The cultivation of this crop in Sri Lanka is more suited to the mid- and low-country wet zones of the island2 . Flowering tends to occur around February/ March and fruit maturation around July/August. Depending on weather conditions, and more specifically, rainfall, a second harvest can be obtained between December and February (www.agridept. gov.lk). On the following map are shown the island’s rambutan producing districts. As can be seen in Figure 3, rambutan is mainly grown in the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kandy and Kegalle though some sites with offseasonal bearing have been identified in adjacent districts such as Galle, Rathnapura, Badulla and Matara (www.agridept.gov.lk). The most popular variety both amongst consumers and cultivators is “Malwana Special”. This local variety derives its name from the area where rambutan was first cultivated after its introduction to the island by Dutch VOC traders in the 17th century.

The current revenue generation from the rambutans harvest is at around Rs 0.9 Mn per annum. (Increase of annual yield by 0.5% expected)