The palm oil industry in Sri Lanka has been a vital policy initiative aimed at reducing palm oil imports and boosting the economy. Oil palm cultivation was allowed initially to reduce reliance on imported palm oil, but concerns over environmental and health impacts led to a decision to phase out cultivation within ten years. In this Q&A Explainer with Author, Dr Erandathie Pathiraja, Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS), provides valuable insights into the recently published IPS study, ‘Palm Oil Industry in Sri Lanka: An Economic Analysis’. Dr Pathiraja shares her perspectives on the reasons behind the ban on oil palm cultivation, the potential impact on the economy and environment, the industry’s economic contributions, environmental concerns and their mitigation, health issues related to edible oil consumption, and alternative solutions to meet the local edible oil demand. The study authored by Dr. Erandathie Pathiraja, Ruwan Samaraweera, Hiruni Fernando, and Jaan Bogodage, offers a comprehensive analysis of the economic and environmental impacts of the palm oil industry in Sri Lanka.
The tourism industry’s performance was hampered first by the Easter Sunday bomb explosions in 2019 and then the COVID-19 pandemic. Sri Lanka saw a decline in tourist arrivals from 1,913,702 in 2019 to 194,495 in 2021. It is estimated that revenue declined from USD 3600 million to USD 261 million during 2019-2021, reflecting a staggering 92.75% reduction due to a fall in arrivals. This blog discusses existing disparities in tourism and the possibility of adopting a sustainable, pro-poor tourism strategy to reduce poverty in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s edible oil market has garnered considerable attention in recent weeks due to a series of events including the banning of palm oil imports in a bid to promote the local coconut industry and the detection of aflatoxins in imported coconut oil. The edible oil industry is important for Sri Lanka with oils and fats being a major constituent of the typical Sri Lankan diet and a raw material in manufacturing, the food manufacturing industry in particular. According to the latest available data, there are around 5,057 establishments employing 332,828 workers in the formal food manufacturing sector which generate an annual output of approximately LKR 1.4 billion. This blog assesses the local edible oil market and its potential for import substitution.
According to a study by IPS on ‘Women-owned and Led Micro, Small Medium Enterprises (WMSMEs) in Spice and Coir Sectors of Sri Lanka’, it was found that more than half of the women surveyed, ranked ‘financial concerns’ as the biggest barrier to operating and expanding their businesses. Using the experiences of one such female entrepreneur, this blog illustrates key strategies to encourage and accelerate the gainful participation of WMSMEs in Sri Lanka’s economy through easy and affordable access to finance.
Government institutions and regional chambers must take lead role in creating more awareness on standards among SMEs and help them in implementation.