Home > Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Agriculture and Fishing Overview
Agriculture and fishing
Agriculture is one of the cornerstones of the Sri Lankan economy and employs about a quarter of the labor force. The three major export crops tea, rubber and coconut occupy 37 percent of the cultivated land. On the rest, food crops are grown, especially rice.
At the beginning of the 1970s, all plantations were nationalized, but since the 1990s new laws have led to the plantation almost exclusively being managed by private owners. The formerly sharp boundary between plantation cultivation of export crops and small farms for household needs has become increasingly blurred. Nowadays, 80 percent of the coconuts, 60 percent of the tea and just over 40 percent of the rubber are produced by small farmers.
The plantation crops are mainly found in rain-rich south-west Sri Lanka. Tea grows up to 2,000 meters in height, while rubber trees are grown on lower slopes and the coconut trees are found in the lowlands. Other crops that are grown for export are cocoa, peppers and spices such as carnations, nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon.
The crops are grown by private farmers in small fields. Rice is the basic food of the Lakes and is grown by small farmers throughout the country on more than 40 percent of the cultivated land. Harvests have increased through larger cultivation areas and improved cultivation methods, which has contributed to a significant reduction in rice imports. The rice crops tenfold between the early 1950s and 2010. Other common crops are sugar cane, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes and cassava.
Breeding of cows, buffaloes, goats and chickens is an important secondary activity for arable farming.
Forests are largely cut down by private individuals who need firewood for the household. Large-scale logging is also being conducted, which poses a serious threat to the tropical rainforest. The forest is felled partly for the timber's sake and partly for paving the way for hydropower expansion. The forest area has been halved in just over half a century and now covers about one fifth of the country.
The importance of fishing for the economy is increasing and now accounts for a few percent of export earnings. In addition, seafood is an important part of the basic food for many lakes. Most fish are caught in the sea and only a small part in freshwater rivers.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
7.9 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
43.7 percent (2016)
Tamil TNA is also behind Sirisena
The country's largest Tamil party TNA backs challenger Sirisena in the presidential elections in early 2015.
Muslim SLMC goes to the opposition
The country's largest Muslim party, SLMC, is leaving government cooperation. Party leader Rauf Hakim, who has been Justice Minister, says he will work for challenger Maithripala Sirisena during the presidential campaign. The message is the biggest hardship so far for President Rajapaksa.
Minister jumps off the government
President Rajapaka's Minister of Industry and Trade Rishad Bathiudin leaves the government to join the opposition instead with his Muslim party ACMC. Bathiudin accuses the president of not doing anything to stop radical Buddhists from attacking the country's religious minorities.
The Minister of Health challenges Rajapaksa in the elections
The opposition to President Rajapaksa unexpectedly succeeds in uniting and presenting a joint candidate in the January 2015 presidential election: Maithripala Sirisena, secretary general of Rajapaksa's own party SLFP and health minister of Rajapaksa's government. Even a fraction within SLFP stands on the challenger's side. Sirisena goes to election with promises to strengthen Parliament's powers at the expense of the presidential office, which, under Rajapaksa, gained more power. The challenger believes that Sri Lanka under Rajapaksa risks developing into a dictatorship characterized by brother-in-law, corruption and lack of legal certainty. Important items in Lankan politics are held by close family members of the president. Soon, Sirisena will be supported by five more government members, as well as the largest opposition party UNP and former President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
The presidential election is scheduled for two years
The UPFA government announces presidential elections until January 8, 2015, two years before President Rajapaksa's six-year term expires.
UPFA goes backwards in local elections
In the elections in the province of Uva, the ruling UPFA backs by more than 20 percentage points despite the fact that the president himself actively participated in the election campaign. The largest opposition party UNP more than doubles its voting share. The election loss is the worst since Rajapaksa became president in 2005.
The tone hardens between the UN and the government
President Rajapaksa announces that he will deny visas to UN representatives planning to travel to Sri Lanka to investigate suspected human rights crimes during the end of the civil war in May 2009. UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay replies that UN can implement its investigation without being in the country, including with the help of satellite images and the internet telephone service Skype.
Lankesian investigation is added
The government gives a group of experts the task of investigating the fate of missing Tamils and suspected human rights crimes committed by the military against Tamils during the civil war of 1983–2009. The group has three international experts on war crimes, two British lawyers and one American lawyer who previously worked as a prosecutor at the UN war criminal courts. The investigation also includes war crimes for which the Tamil guerrilla LTTE is suspected.
Restrictions are imposed on NGOs
Voluntary organizations operating in the country are prohibited from holding press conferences, sending out press releases and organizing seminars for journalists.
Several dead in violence against Muslims
Supporters of the radical group of Buddhist bridges attack Muslims in the city of Aluthgama in the south. At least four Muslims are killed and more than 80 people injured when Buddhists attack mosques and Muslim-owned shops. Three mosques are burned down. When violence erupts between Buddhists and Muslims, the authorities temporarily curfew in the cities of Aluthgama and Beruwala.
Worried five-year anniversary
The government celebrates the fifth anniversary of the victory over the Tamil guerrilla LTTE in May 2009 with a military parade and other events. The police strike against journalists, students and opposition politicians who oppose the celebration. According to the British BBC, during the festivities Tamils are forbidden to publicly mourn their loved ones who were killed in the civil war.
Suspected LTTE sympathizers are shot to death
Army soldiers kill three men suspected of being sympathizers to the former Tamil LTTE guerrilla. The three should have intended to recruit unemployed Tamils to a new guerrilla force.
Special strength against extremism is formed
As a result of Buddhist extremist attacks on religious minorities in recent times, the police form a special force dedicated to curbing hate crimes.
UPFA wins local elections in the south and west
The ruling party alliance UPFA wins the local elections in the Southern Province and the Western Province, though by a smaller margin than in previous elections. The two provinces are usually strong UPFA mounts.
Resolution on international investigation of human rights violations is adopted
The UN Human Rights Council adopts a resolution calling for an international investigation into suspected human rights crimes committed during the end of the Civil War in the spring of 2009. The resolution is adopted with 23 votes in favor and 12 votes against.
Stone throwing against Christian prayer house
Buddhist monks attack a Christian prayer house in southern Sri Lanka by throwing stones at the building. According to eyewitnesses, the police stand beside them and watch without intervening.