National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE) President Sarada De Silva addressed a World Trade Organisation (WTO) forum in Geneva, on the success of the Joint UNIDO–STDF–TSC Project, titled ‘Spicing-Up Development Assistance for the Cinnamon Industry of Sri Lanka’.
The event conducted by the WTO in Geneva recently served to disseminate information to international participants from WTO officials of representative countries, International Trade Centre, World Intellectual Property Office and International Labour Organisation on the success of the Joint WTO-Standard Trade Development Facility (STDF)/UNIDO Project implemented in Sri Lanka in collaboration with the Spice Council of Sri Lanka and Cinnamon Training Academy.
It showcased how Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary (SPS) requirements triggered a transformational change in the Sri Lankan cinnamon industry. It also focused on how the registration process for geographical indication (GI) for Ceylon cinnamon sparked a solid public-private partnership and how the quest for competitiveness led to improve social and economic conditions of labour.
The welcoming remarks at the event were made by WTO Deputy Director General David Shark and the keynote address was made by R.D.S. Kumararatna, Permanent Representative to the WTO, of the Sri Lankan Mission in Geneva.
De Silva, who was invited to the event, in his capacity as the Founder President of the Spice Council and Cinnamon Training Academy and his contribution for the development of the spice industry in Sri Lanka and as a leading exporter of spices, delivered the main presentation on the ‘The outcome of SPS capacity building for Ceylon cinnamon and geographical indication (GI) as its long-term goal’.
De Silva in his address highlighted the following:
The history of the development of the cinnamon industry in Sri Lanka and the vision of the country and of the Spice Council to move away from being a bulk exporter to an exporter of value-added and organic products, in view of its far-reaching social economic implications.
The true nature of Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum – HS Code 090611), which is far superior to cassia (Cinnamomum Cassia – HS Code 090619) supplied by other sources to the international market. He explained the role played by the Spice Council (which is the apex organisation comprising of public and private sector stakeholders) in establishing two separate ISO standards and two separate harmonized codes for cinnamon and cassia, the chemical characteristics of which are different.
The role played by the WTO – STDF – UNIDO – TSC Project to improve the standard of families involved in the cinnamon industry with tremendous impact on their livelihoods. As a result, exports related to value-added and organic products from the sector were increasing, with new products being developed for the niche markets.
The constraints for the development of the cinnamon industry in Sri Lanka due to the severe shortage of peelers now called processors and the lack of recognition and training, impacting on the dignity of labour. This issue was addressed through the establishment of the Cinnamon Training Academy (CTA) to introduce best practices and hygienic standards to the industry resulting in better working conditions, enhancing incomes and recognition of production labour.
The initiative to develop a GI road map in collaboration with the Export Development Board (EDB) and the preparation of a Technical Dozier to make the application for GI. The delay in this regard is due to not having in place the GI law in Sri Lanka and a GI register.
The launching of the Pure Ceylon Cinnamon (PCC) certification mark with the Lion logo and registration in the EU, the USA, Peru, Colombia and the WIPO by the EDB for implementation.
The projects that are planned for the future, which include the establishment of a large number of small, medium and large-scale good manufacturing practices (GMP) centres, establishment by the CTA (a) a consultancy and advisory service and a research and development centre, (b) establishment of a climate mitigation, renewable energy, sustainable watering solution, with year round harvesting, (c) working on a proposal with the Skills Development Ministry to assist the CTA to enhance its training and services facilities through an EU-funded International Trade Centre (ITC)/UNIDO Project, which was due to commence in the last quarter of this year.
De Silva acknowledged the extremely valuable contribution made by the WTO-STDF-UNIDO-TSC Project in developing and enhancing the cinnamon industry in Sri Lanka as well as the longstanding image of Ceylon cinnamon.