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Sri Lankan Bananas Gain Access to China

June 03, 2015

On May 20, an agreement was made to allow Sri Lankan bananas to enter China. The agreement was made during talks in Beijing between Li Jianwei, the Head of the Animal and Plant Quarantine Department of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and Ranjith Uyangodam, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka in China. The two parties reviewed the major steps in the area of quarantine, planned further cooperation, and reached an agreement on Sri Lankan bananas being imported to China.

According to CIC Agri Businesses statistics, banana is the most prominent crop fruit in Sri Lanka: approximately 54 percent of total land cultivated for fruit is used for bananas. However, the banana industry is still under-developed, with productivity at about 13 MT/HA, far behind other major banana growing countries. In 2012, the multinational food company Dole had hoped to cooperate with a local company, Letsgrow, to plant bananas in Sri Lanka's Somawathiya National Park, but there were concerns that the banana plantation would harm the local environment. Thus, the banana giant later ceased operations and ended the program. In 2013, ITOCHU Corporation, a Tokyo-based firm, invested in the Sri Lankan banana industry and helped improve export of the fruit.

With the development of Sino-Sri Lankan bilateral trade, more cooperation in agriculture is expected to go deeper and further. Yet for the time being, the Philippines and Ecuador remain the major countries exporting bananas. In the past year, the Philippines exported US$555.1 million of bananas to China, a more than 100 percent increase; while Ecuador earned US$185.7 million, an astonishing eight-fold growth. Banana is the top imported fruit in China and is growing with strong potential—142.7 percent growth this year as compared to the previous year. Therefore, the opening of the Chinese market is a huge opportunity for the entire Sri Lankan banana industry.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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