The Spice Council 19th Ceremonial AGM was successfully held on November 8, 2023, at the JAIC Hilton Union Ballroom.
The Spice Council’s chairman, Mr. Viraj De Silva, said in his speech that the council’s goals have always been to promote the highest standards of ethical behavior in business and to ensure that all Sri Lankan spices could effectively and profitably compete on the international market. Additionally, he mentioned that the primary initiative undertaken in recent years by the Spice Council, along with the EDB and UNIDO, has been to establish recognition of the brand in the spice industry by obtaining a Geographical Indication (GI) for spices originating from Sri Lanka. One successful initiative that was taken was to obtain GI status for Ceylon Cinnamon that showcases the uniqueness of one of our major spices.,
When the EU (Commission) granted Ceylon Cinnamon GI status in February 2022, Sri Lanka achieved a historic milestone and a competitive advantage for the industry, despite competition increasing from regions that grow Cinnamon Zeylanicum, such as Madagascar and Tanzania.
Government pledges support for spice industry revival
– President says addressing the 19th Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka Spice Council
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, called for a comprehensive program to revive the country’s spice industry, which was once a major source of income. Speaking at the 19th Annual General Meeting of the Spice Council, he urged them to prepare a proper plan for the revival of the industry and said that the government is ready to provide the necessary support.
The President stressed the importance of bringing the private sector together to implement the program promptly. He also presented awards to Mr. Sarada de Silva and Prof. Jayasiri Lankage for their contribution to the promotion of the cinnamon industry in Sri Lanka.
In addition, President Wickremesinghe presented a commemorative gift to the Minister of Agriculture and Industrial Development, Mr. Mahinda Amaraweera, and received a souvenir gift from the Spice Council.
Expressing his views further, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said;
Sri Lanka once had the world’s best spices, but our neglect of the industry in the past 30-40 years has led to a decline in our income from spices.
This needs to change. As we implement economic reforms and debt sustainability measures, we must become a more competitive and export-oriented economy. We need to earn more foreign exchange to repay our debt and ensure a positive balance of payments.
One way to achieve this is to focus on an export economy that is competitive and generates foreign exchange through economic activities. Spices can be one of the main sectors of this economy.
In the past, the Sri Lankan economy was heavily dependent on the spice sector. We need to expand our focus to a broader market. The government has already taken some steps in this direction, such as establishing a separate department for cinnamon development.
Other spices that have been cultivated in Sri Lanka since ancient times include pepper and many others. We need to work through a targeted program to improve the production and export of these spices.
Sri Lanka is known for its high-quality coffee and cocoa, in addition to spices. The government is prepared to provide the land and resources needed to develop these sectors, and there is also private land available. Let us all work together to achieve this.
We should also immediately implement an agricultural modernization program that incorporates new technologies. This will help us to improve productivity and efficiency and to compete more effectively in the global market.
The private sector has a vital role to play in this endeavour. I therefore urge the Spice Council to develop a plan for promoting the spice industry and I assure you that the Minister and I are ready to provide the necessary support.
Expressing his views Minister of Agriculture and Industrial Development Mahinda Amaraweera;
“The government is committed to taking important steps to boost the spice sector. The President’s recent decision to establish a separate department for cinnamon is a timely and welcome move to improve the cinnamon value chain.
Under the President’s leadership, the government has taken many steps to support the overall progress of the country’s agriculture sector, including the spice industry.”
The speeches were given by Mr J L K Weeralal Additional Director General (Development) Department of Export Agriculture and Mr Roshan Ranawake Managing Director – Control Union Inspections (Pvt) Ltd
H.E.Ranil Wickremasinghe-President of Sri Lanka presented awards to Mr. Sarada de Silva In Recognition of founding platforms, driving the Geographical Indication (GI) of Cinnamon for Sri Lanka giving dedicated and invaluable service to the Spice Industryand Prof. Jayasiri Lankage for the long standing dedicated and invaluable service Rendered to the Cinnamon Industry of Sri Lanka
In addition President of the Spice Council Mr. Viraj De Silva presented the Minister of Agriculture and Industrial Development, Mr. Mahinda Amaraweera, a souvenir from the Spice Council.
The event was attended by Director of the Department of Cinnamon Development Janaka Lindara, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board Dr. Kingsley Bernard, deputy ambassador Katsuski Kotaro from the Japanese embassy heads of government and private institutions, UNIDO, GIZ, stake holders of the industry SAPPTA and others and the President of the Spice Council Mr. Viraj De Silva and members of the association.