Importance of coconut and coconut-based substrate exports | Daily News


Importance of coconut and coconut-based substrate exports

Sri Lanka should do more value addition for coco peat:

Sri Lanka should do more to do value addition for coco peat rather than discarding them.

Since it is a leftover substance, the coco peat poses a considerable threat to the environment. Instead of discarding these harmful leftovers into the environment, the local producers and importers of coco peat have thrived in the highly competitive industry by earning foreign exchange in for over 3 decades. These industrial experts were able to transform the traditional technologies and techniques used within the fiber industry to fit better contemporarily in the modern age to remain competitive within the international market.

As an important element in the coconut and coconut-based substrate industry, the coco peat related product exports have sustained a consistent 6% growth within the past 5 years. These efforts effort earned the country an export income of 150mn USD for the year 2019. The goal is to bring these earnings up to 300mn USD within the upcoming years.

There is a significant gap within the demand and supply for these products within the global market. This acts as a formidable threat for the Sri Lankan importers. The effect of this is as such. When there is excess demand, and the suppliers are unable to effectively cater to it, reckless measures are taken to produce and import low-quality products. Giving prominence to quantity rather than quantity acts detrimental for the coco peat suppliers. The sacrifice of the quality by not maintaining the proper production process puts the entire craft in a crisis.

As industrialists, another key challenge that we noticed is the entrance of amateur, inexperienced self-proclaimed industrialists who lack the necessary know-how to operate within the market. These individuals follow questionable production standards, pricing mechanisms, and how they deal with the international market at times brings disgrace to the entire country. This kind of action blemishes the entire image of the Sri Lankan representation within the global market.

If this is to continue, it will be difficult to maintain the consistent and sustained 6% growth within the coco peat and coconut-based substrate exports industry. The industry would have to face an unavoidable crisis if this situation is to continue. The government should remain attentive to these producers and importers and intervene by formulating stringent policies and regulations. This is the ultimate contribution that can be given to stabilize the predicament and ensure the continuation of consistent and sustained economic growth.

Additionally, we believe the proper measures need to be taken to create a change in the perception of the unemployed ladies and gentlemen. These individuals show reluctance to engage within the industry since the same perception that the industry uses traditional means and technologies remains unchanged. Measures need to be taken to make them aware that such measures have been upgraded to fit the modern age and that the technologies are significantly superior to how they are perceived. Introducing these individuals to the modernized factories and creating employment opportunities to permit them to get a feel of the industry will create a spike in the interest levels.

The coir extracted by coconuts within a year for Sri Lanka is currently recorded as 3 billion. Only 33% of this coir is effectively used within the coir based production industry. If the amount of coir that is effectively used is improved by up to 60%, we will be able to realize an annual export income of 300 million USD shortly. The industry shall have a bright and prosperous future if the necessary coordination and support is given by the state authorities.

The Coconut and Coconut Related Substrate Exporters Association President extend his heartfelt concern regarding the betterment of the industry during the World Coconut Day which falls on September 2, 2020.

This article was written by Secretary, Exporter Association of Coconut Based Substrates Randheer Mallawaarachchi.

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