Agriculture is the most important sector of the Sri Lankan economy. More than one third of the total population in Sri Lanka engages in agricultural activities. Sri Lanka's primary form of agriculture is paddy cultivation. Rice crop occupies one third of the total cultivated area in Sri Lanka. Most paddy fields are family owned and produce rice for own or home village requirements. About 1.8 million farm families are engaged in paddy cultivation. The annual production of more than 3 million tonnes of rice just satisfies the domestic requirement. Sri Lanka became less dependent on additional rice imports during recent years, though the annual demand for rice is slightly increasing. Between 1960 and 2000, the area used to grow rice increased 6 times due to new irrigation projects and the rehabilitation of the ancient irrigation system and rice yield per hectare doubled due to modern production methods.
Other crops cultivated on the island are vegetables, fruits and particularly oilseed such as groundnut, sesame, sunflower and mustard. Due to the varied climate zones, about eighty different species of fruits and vegetables are grown in Sri Lanka. Even typical European crops such as carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, salad, bean, cucumber have been grown in the cool climate of Nuwara Eliya District since introduction by the British. Potatoes are grown on a large scale near Nuwara Eliya, too. Vegetables cultivated in the lowlands are chilli, onion, and pumpkin. Indigo, tobacco, coffee and cinchona are cultivated, too. Sugar cane is cultivated in the dry zone, but Sri Lanka produces only 15 percent of its domestical consumation.
Tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapple, papayas, melon, and lemon, grown in the lowlands, were introduced by colonial powers, too. Mango could be indigenous or introduced from Myanmar or Bengal. Rambutan is native. Passion fruit, wood apple and pomegranate are fruits traditionally used in Aryurvedic medicine. Anoda, called the cancer-fighting fruit, is originally from South America, Gaduguda seems to be from Malaysia, they have become part of local Ayurveda, too. Altogether, there over 200 varieties of fruits suitable for consumption. Most of these crops are cultivated in family gardens.
Ceylon Tea, cultivated in the central highlands, is a major source of foreign exchange. It accounts for 2% of GDP and employs about one million people, more than 200,000 of them are employed by tea estates. Besides tea, there are two other plants grown in large estates for export, namely coconut and rubber. Sri Lanka was the first tropical country outside Brazil, where rubber was introduced by the British, who had stolen it from Brazil. China is traditionally the major buyer of Sri Lankan rubber. 65 percent of the coconut output is consumed domestically. The remainder is exported in the form of kernel products such as oil and copra.
The most famous spice originating from Sri Lanka is cinnamon. Black pepper and cardamom are indiginous, too, though in less amounts and of lower quaility than in south-western India.
The livestock sector in Sri Lanka is small and consisting mainly of dairy and poultry. Similar to paddy cultivation, Sri Lanka’s dairy farming is a small-scale domestic activity.
Read more: http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Asia-and-the-Pacific/Sri-Lanka-AGRICULTURE.html#ixzz3EU2KkHBk
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