“Excellence in Exports of Spices and Allied Products”
“Planning and Implementation of an appropriate Research and Development Programme with the prime objective of earning more foreign exchange through enhancement of quality and quantity of Export Agricultural Crop Production for sustainable development of economic and social standards of all the stakeholders of the Export Agricultural Crop(EAC) sector while ensuring the safeguards to the environment”
The public interest to promote perennial spices and beverages has no more than 40 years history though the country had world wide fame for growing and trading of those commodities for centuries. Among Export Agriculture Crops, the first national effort was taken to develop coffee in 1959 through the first National Development Plan prepared by the Ministry of National Planning. The development of uneconomic tea lands was a hot issue by that time and the agriculture plan prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture proposed a subsidy scheme for planting coffee in the uneconomic tea small holdings. The effort was considered as successful and by 1963 Department of National Planning took up the issue of development of perennial spices and cocoa which they referred as the Minor Export Crops. However development of these crops in terms of perennial action were brought in to the mainstream of National Agricultural Planning only in 1971.
The deliberations of Tea Commission, appointed in 1968, were published in as the sessional paper No. XVIII of 1968 and the commission recommended cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg as possible alternate crops for cultivation in uneconomic tea lands. The in-depth study of the tea commission indicated the availability of large extents of uneconomic tea land in the mid country and stressed the need for diversification of tea in to other suitable crops. Following that report, the FAO/UNDP assisted crop diversification project was started in the mid country in April 1970. Soon after the commencement of the crop diversification project the Department of Minor Export Crops was established under the Ministry of plantation Industries by a cabinet paper in 1972. Main objectives of the department were to increase export earnings from minor export crops and to increase the economic viability of traditional tea rubber and coconut lands through diversification and inter planting. The cocoa development and rehabilitation program, handled by the coconut and cocoa rehabilitation department, was soon transferred to the newly created department. Procedures for implementation of research and development policies were developed from the studies of the crop diversification project.
By 1975 the Department of Minor Export Crops created under the Plantation Industries was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture but the objective of diversification of uneconomic tea lands with minor export crops was retained with the Ministry of Plantation Industries. With that the Department faced a problem of loosing one of its main objectives and uncertainties were raised on the vision of the department. However the department had established it self with strong research and development programs and with the assistance of the FAO/UNDP project the department was able to continue its functions emphasizing on the export objective. By 1992 the export quantities and values of Minor Export Crops increased several folds, mainly due to the departmental interference hence the requirement of strong public entity to develop the sector was a timely requirement. As a result of that the Department was renamed in 1992 as the Department of Export Agriculture and strengthened legally by a Parliamentary act (Act No 46 of 1992). The creation of the Department of Export Agriculture was a significant millstone in the history of the sector. The development and research work on these crops began on more organized way after the establishment of this department.
Research and development divisions of the department were started with the creation of the department in 1972. Development division has established its’ functions in fourteen main growing districts of EAC. On the crop production front an assistance scheme was operative for selected crops from 1972 onwards. The scheme was revised several times but keeps operative until to date
First research station was started at Matale with two officers and a handful of support staff. Over the years the research wing was expanded to fully equipped central research station and six other commodity based and farming system based research sub stations were added in Kundasale, Delpitiya, Nilambe, Palolpitiya and Nartammala. The development was supported by the UNDP/FAO project and World Bank funded Agricultural Research Project during 1987-96.
As a policy, the DEA paid more attention to increase the production, productivity and to improve the quality of the products in order to meet the international standards and trade regulations, which enable to compete with other producing countries. Considering the international market requirements DEA continued its efforts in 2018 under the theme of “A Better Quality Product”, to ensure the implementation of food safety standards in the domestic production system, while promoting Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). In addition, a home garden promotion program called “ Dhana Saviya” was implemented , to uplift living standards of the rural community.
The Promotion of Export Agriculture Crops Act No. 46 dated 22nd September 1992 of Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, embodies and gives statutory status to the functions and services mentioned below.
1. Organizing and promotion of cultivation and processing of EACs
2. Undertaking multidisciplinary research on crop improvement, crop husbandry, crop
3. protection, post-harvest handling, and socio-economics
4. Production and supply of quality planting material
5. Implementation of EAC assistant schemes on crop production, productivity improvement, and quality improvement
6. Providing crop protection advisory services
7. Promotion of Integrated Pest Management
8. Promotion of Integrated Plant Nutrient Management
9. Promotion of Organic Farming
10. Dissemination of information on marketing, quality standards, and prices etc.
11. Control of importation of EAC products and planting materials etc.
12.Training of personals involved in EAC production, processing, and trading
13. Providing advisory services for the promotion of EACs in the estate sector
14. Strengthening of the linkage among public and private organizations involved with EACs
15. The executive authority vested under the Export Agriculture Act No. 46 of 1992
16. Contributing towards EACs related policy matters in other governmental organizations
17. Maintenance of technological demonstrations