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  • Volume 1 June 2014 PIMA JOURNAL


    Cocoa Cultivation in Sri Lanka and its Sustainability as an Export Crop

    Deepal Rajaguru MBA (PIM-USJ), IEng, MIIESL, GCGI (UK), AMRAeSDeepal is a professionally qualified Incorporated Engineer and an Associate Member of Royal Aeronautical Society. He is a graduate of City & Guilds of London Institute, UK and a Master of Business Administration from the Postgraduate Institute of Management, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka.

    Having completed his National Diploma in Technology in Mechanical (Automobile) Engineering from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, Deepal had started his career with Air Lanka, in its Engineering Department. With over thirty years of experience in the Aviation field in its support services, Deepal currently serves as a Material Support Controller in a leading Airline in the Middle East.

    The writer pursued this topic in his research report submitted to Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka in year 2011. His interest of Cocoa cultivation in Sri Lanka grew with his initial ambition of entrepreneurship of chocolate industry. The article deals with his recent fact finding mission on the current state of this precious crop, Cocoa, and the latest details obtained with courtesy of Multi Export Crops (MEC) Division, Department of Export Agriculture, Gatambe, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

    Sri Lanka, once known as a leading producer of worlds finest cocoa flavors and leading exporter of Cocoa beans during the 1960 decade had been drastically reduced to a back bencher today in the world export market. The end product of the Cocoa bean is which is popularly known as chocolate does not need any introduction to human of any wake of life. The day you learn the taste of it, will be the most devoured sweetmeat in the world, anytime. As of today, it is estimated that around five billion chocolate bars are being produced in the confectionary factories using raw Cocoa powder mixed with various other ingredients to bring hundreds of attractive chocolate products one can imagine. You may find Cocoa as an ingredient in chocolate bars, ice cream, biscuits, drinks, various food varieties, cakes and now even in ladies cosmetics. In the context of the world demand, for such a lucrative market, it is very logical to find where Sri Lanka stands today among the other world Cocoa growing and exporting countries.

    One of the obstacles faced by growing the Cocoa is limited to certain climatic, temperature and soil conditions. The crop is initially grown as an inter-crop by the assistance of a parent tree in its tender age in the shade. The major growers of Cocoa plantations in Sri Lanka are located in Central, North Central and Uva provinces of Sri Lanka. The tender plants are usually grown under rubber and coconut plantations in these provinces. The giants of Cocoa growing nations in the world are located in African continent which houses the countries like Ghana,

    Ivory Coast, and Nigeria. Export of Cocoa is the biggest foreign exchange earner for both Ghana and Ivory Coast. Interestingly, Sri Lanka is geographically situated in parallel to these countries which is famously known as worlds Cocoa belt.

    The readers must realize that Sri Lanka was once a leading Cocoa bean exporter to the world market about half a century ago, but today, the country is nowhere near that potential in comparison to major Cocoa bean exporters in the world. During the period of fifty years, the Sri Lankan farmers have turned to other crops which had yielded better market prices in cinnamon, pepper, cardamom and cloves. The frequent mammalian attacks by marauding bunches of monkeys, big tree squirrels and bats devouring on the ripe and tender Cocoa pods had brought devastating effects on the crop. The Cocoa trees also have been cut and putdown by people to make way for dwellings. The thriving Cocoa estates had been fragmented to people to live. All these factors had made the decline of this precious Cocoa industry in our country. The successive governments which came to power since last five decades had kept a blind eye on the decline of the Cocoa beans industry or done a very little to bring back to its original glory.

    The Table 1 shows recent Sri Lankan Cocoa bean exports which were made to various countries between year 2007-2012. The prominent Countries were randomly picked from the original long list of data provided by the MEC Division, Department of Export Agriculture, Peradeniya.

    As shown in Table 1, our closest neighbor, India, had been the constant importer of Sri Lankan Cocoa beans throughout this five year period. Their highest order being record 4250.9 Metric tons in year 2011 but fell almost half in year 2012. Data also indicate that the exports to other countries were not constant throughout this five year period. Could it be possible that Sri Lankan Cocoa bean products were insufficient to cater to the worlds demand?

  • PIMA JOURNAL Volume 1 June 2014


    Country 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

    Australia 57.60 5.20 15.20 - - 22.50

    Bangladesh - - - - - 18.50

    Canada 1.20 1.90 0.10 0.30 0.20 0.45

    Colombia - 182.30 - 39.50 337.80 176.10

    China - - - - - 18.50

    Egypt 64.50 - - - - -

    India 48.10 157.60 1372.10 3871.00 4250.90 2421.10

    Japan - - - - - 18.60

    Pakistan 10.30 3.00 0.30 - - -

    UAE 14.20 24.50 23.70 - 406.30 247.50

    USA - - - - - 115.27

    Other countries 37.70 21.10 5.30 4.00 7.20 33.99

    Total 233.60 395.60 1416.70 3914.80 5002.40 3072.51

    Table 1: Export of Cocoa by Sri Lanka in Metric Tons (Year 2007 2012)

    Table 2: Cocoa Export/Import Comparison of Sri Lanka (Year 2008 July, 2013)

    (Data Courtesy: MEC Division, Department of Export Agriculture, Peradeniya)

    (Data Courtesy: MEC Division, Department of Export Agriculture, Peradeniya)

  • Volume 1 June 2014 PIMA JOURNAL


    Supporting the above argument that, Sri Lanka was not in a position to cater the demand and supply from many other nations, it has been found out from the facts obtained from the MEC division in Peradeniya that the local production is not at all sufficient to cater the local production of Chocolate related products, hence imports in the form of semi-product of Powder had to be shipped in from other Cocoa bean production countries.

    The Table 2 clearly indicates the enormous differences of export and import of Cocoa beans in Sri Lanka between years 2008 to 2013; where the local production of Cocoa beans is totally insufficient to cater the local production.

    The above statistics of the status of the production of Cocoa beans in Sri Lanka during recent years clearly highlights the gap of extra import volume from outside to cater the islands needs let alone thinking of increasing of the export volume to countries of the world. It is a clear indication as to the position we are now in a fertile country suited for Cocoa cultivation. When the popularity of Cocoa products among the population of the world increase day after day, Sri Lankas Cocoa production had gone bad to worse where the country cannot even fulfill its domestic demand.

    In a brief discussion recently between the writer and a research officer working at MEC Division attached to the Department of Export Agriculture, Peradeniya had highlighted the department desire to popularize this priced Cocoa cultivation once again among the population living in the Central, Uva and North Central provinces. The following were some of the points taken during the above discussion:

    1. A massive plan to popularize the crop in the Uva (Monaragala district) province where land is still in abundance to encourage the growers.

    2. Regretfully, due to fragmentation of land, it had been difficult to encourage growers in the Central Province (Kandy and Matale districts) and North Central Province (Kurunegala district) it had been a tough ask to launch the project.

    3. The biggest setback other than the fragmentation of land in Central and North Central provinces being the menace of monkeys and big tree squirrel attacks, which had become the biggest threat to the growers which indeed had a discouraging effect among the growers.

    4. Currently a kilo of quality Cocoa beans is priced around Sri Lankan Rupees 400+ which is attracting the people to grow the trees which needs minimal care, except protecting them from the animals, once the trees attain fruit bearing stage after five years of careful attention.

    5. The government had recently allocated a substantial sum from the budget to encourage the small scale multi export crops growers and it is pleasing to understand that the dying Cocoa plantations is one of the industries which had been targeted.

    6. A well understanding methodology is critically needed to control the mammalian attacks on this precious crop between the Department of Export Agriculture and the Department of Wildlife. A process need to be mapped out to prevent the extensive damages done by the troupes of monkeys and big tree squirrels in the cultivation areas of deep concern.

    7. To promote the Cocoa husk composite manure projects in a large scale from the thousands of left over husks during the splitting of the Cocoa pods.

    It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who

    pays the wages. Henry Ford