Cinnamon & Sri Lanka


Page contains overview of cinnamon production with special reference to Sri Lanka

Cinnamon in the history of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka  the “Spice Island” is renowned for the spices export  for time immemorial. Cinnamon, pepper, cardamom,  clove and nutmeg are the major spices which have an export significance to Sri Lanka. Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum syn.Cynnamomum Zeylanicum) is one of the oldest and most significant spice grown in Sri Lanka. Cinnamon was a popular spice in ancient Arab world and was used as cosmetic and pharmaceutical ingredient as well. Firstly the Arabs and then Europeans became the traders in cinnamon and this brought Sri Lanka in contact with other parts of the world. As reported by Wijesekara et al ( 1975), Cinnamon played a major role in world history, by motivating the Christopher Columbus to discover the new world and Vasco De Gama to South India and Sri Lanka. The traditionally known cinnamon was the peeled cinnamon bark rolled in to the quill form, which facilitate storage and transportation. Cinnamon oil distillation would have probably commenced during the Dutch regime.

Except true cinnamon, almost all other EACs are cultivated in many other countries in large bulk form and as such  Sri Lanka has the comparative advantage only in the Cinnamon market . For the other spices comparative advantage lies in niche markets where intrinsic quality.

Video about history of Cinnamon Industry in Sri Lanka. (If you can't see the video please download the flash player from http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/)

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Economic analysis of cinnamon production

Cinnamon makes a considerable contribution towards the export income generated from Agricultural plant products in Sri Lanka. The importance of this spice to the countries economy was highlighted by the Hon. Minister of Finance & Planning, Dr. Sarath Amunugama, M.P, in his budget speech in 2005.

“Sri Lanka produces more than 90 percent genuine cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Blume) in the world. Our exports account for 63 percent of all spice exports in the world. Cheap low quality alternatives have begun to enter the global market leading to increased competition. There is an urgent need for increased investment in research and product development for value addition in cinnamon. Efforts to give “Ceylon Cinnamon” maximum protection under WTO agreement are being intensified. Investments in marketing “Ceylon Cinnamon” is essential to combat this competition. I propose to impose a cess of Rs.2.50/kg. or 0.5% of the value which ever is higher for the development of this industry. The Government will contribute Rs.10 million to set up a Cinnamon Development Fund”

The best quality  cinnamon was produced in Negombo District. The major product of the cinnamon plant is quills. It is account for 63% of the volume and 72% of exchange earning. Other bark products are quilling, featherings, Chips, ground cinnamon, cinnamon powder, leaf oil and bark oil. According to Department of Export Agriculture reports ( Anura Herath, J.Weerasinghe 2004 ),Over 90,00 ha of wet zone  land is Under Export Agriculture Crops (EAC), accounting for 9% the land under all perennial crops. There over 250000 small scale growers involved in cultivation and about 60000 of them depends on EAC as their main family income. In comparison to world market price, Except for pepper and clove  (Which are exported to India ), prices of other products have a notably low price, compared to world market prices.

Cinnamon bark as well as other cinnamon products has wide applications in food and perfumery industries. They are also used in pharmaceutical and essence industries. Cinnamic aldehyde, the major constituent in the cinnamon bark oil, is an important food flavoring agent. Cinnamon oleoresin, an important product of cinnamon, has similar applications in the food industry. Euginol, an aromatic compound, extracted from cinnamon leaf oil is often used for flavoring toothpaste along with mint and eucalyptus oils.

The main producing area of cinnamon is the costal belt; Galle (10647 ha), Matara ( 5477 ha), Rathnapura ( 3620 ha ), and Hambantota (1,985 ha). (DEA Report  2003 ) According to  Dept. of Export  Agriculture statistics Existing extent of cinnamon plantation at the end of 2005 was 26051  ha. As per the 2005 data  of  the Department of Export Agriculture, total extent of  cinnamon is increased by 819 ha during last 5 years ( Data obtained from Central Bank)

Cinnamon at present is the dominant spice in Sri Lanka in terms of the foreign exchange earnings. The share lies on cinnamon in terms of the export of Agricultural products in 2004 and 2005 were .0. 86% and 0.96% respectively.   In 2005 Total foreign exchange  earnings from cinnamon was above the  earnings from rubber by 11.3 million   dollars . Cinnamon revenue growth in  2005 was 23.1% above the export  earnings  over 2004 figures. .( table 1 ).

Table 1.  Agricultural Exports  in US $ millions ( Source Central Bank report 2005) 

Commodity

2004                    Share %

            2005                       Share %

Total Agric. Export

1065.2

18.5

1153.8

18.2

Tea

738.9

12.8

810.2

12.8

Rubber

51.3

0.9

46.9

0.7

Coconut

113.1

2.0

113.3

1.8

Cinnamon

49.7

0.86

61.2

  0.96

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About 10000 families are actively involved with cinnamon industry. Sri Lankan Government thus emphasis on developing the cinnamon industry by providing subsidies, credits, extension and research inputs and assistance for cinnamon based value added products. Subsidies and credits are given for new planting, replanting and rehabilitation.  A total of Rs 16.4 mln. 15.16 mln and 8.2 mln were given as cash grants to the cinnamon industry during 2001, 2002 and 2003. ( Admin. Report DEA,2003  )

The average age of cinnamon plantation in Sri Lanka is  around 40 years and about 20% are over  70 years of age. Small holder cultivation is the dominant type, which are in average about 0.5 ha ( 1.5 acre ). The size of holdings has been diminishing and only 5-10 % of the plantations are of sizable extent ranging from 8 - 20 ha.  (Economic Research report  No. 18,DEA2003)

The potential production level of quills as per the estimates made by the DEA ( 2003),is about 1000 kg/ha, in the age of 7 year plantation, which can be maintain at this level till about 40 years with the adoption of  good management practices. Gross income and expenditure analysis for a new establishment of a  plantation  is given in the table 2.  

Table  2 Annual cost and returns for establishment and maintenance of a 1 ha. land ( Report DEA )

Years

1st

year

2nd year

3rd year

4th  year

5th year

6th year

7th year

8th year

Rest

Labour cost Rs.

36049

10370

17284

30617

41481

46420

51358

56296

56296

Material inputs  Rs.

10150

7370

9250

9250

9250

9250

9250

9250

9250

total cost Rs.

46199

17740

26703

40206

51577

58208

65684

74006

74006

Gross income Rs/ha.

 

 

60720

151440

214600

253300

296600

343500

343500

net return Rs/ha

 

 

34017

11234

163023

195092

230916

269494

269494

 

How ever as per the survey conducted by Anura Herath ( 2003 ), Average productivity of the cinnamon plantations at present  lies around 388 kg/ha  and 623 kg/ha for mixed and mono cropping status of land management. This is mainly associated with lack of investment attitudes of growers due to high labor involvement in cinnamon peeling .

Traditionally cinnamon is cultivated as a mono- crop in large holdings. At present  about 90% of cinnamon holdings are cultivated as a mono-crop . The balance 10% has coconut as an intercrop, and in areas such as Ratnapura and Kalutara, it  cultivates with other types of perennial  crops.

Sri Lanka is the largest producer of Cinnamon in the world accounting for about 65 - 70 % of the global production, with Seychelles, Madagascar, India and other suppliers collectively contributing the balance. Sri Lanka exports spices to about 70 countries in the world with Mexico, India, USA and Europe being the major buyers.

Export market for cinnamon as per the available data of the Sri Lanka Customs ( 2004) are given in table 3. Accordingly   Major cinnamon quills importers  are Latin American countries,  which constitutes 85.2 % of the total  export earnings. Share comes to EU countries was  2.2% ; USA  had  9.0% of the share. Thus major importing countries are Spanish speaking countries with Mexico, Colombia, Peru  Guatemala in front line and USA. According to the reports of the customs 39 countries have imported the cinnamon quills including the EU countries.  

Table 3    Major Ceylon cinnamon quill  importing  countries ( 2004   ) ( Source SL Customs 2005 )

Country

Total export Tons

Value in  RS mln

Share from total export (%)

All the countries

 

3602

 

Mexico

4773

2140

59.0

Colombia

648

250

7.0

Peru

463

171

4.7

Guatemala

204

97

2.7

Ecuador

533

199

5.5

El Salvador

108

43

3.4

EU

150

80

2.2

USA

752

323

9.0

With growing concern on health hazards associated with synthetic flavoring agents used in food industry, there is an increasing preference for natural flavors all over the world. Thus, the demand for cinnamon oil is expected to grow steadily in the future with the growing population and expansion and sophistication of the food industry.

However though this crop is of such importance and has been grown in Sri Lanka for centuries, there has been hardly any improvement in its productivity in the last few decades. In addition to that estimated loss of the products  according to DEA report by Anura Herath, J.Weerasinghe (2004 ), due to high moisture content  is  US $ 2.2 million/year which is about 3% of the foreign exchange earnings from total EAC exports. 

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