Sri Lanka to go organic in homecoming of organic wine

Written by Aiman Mamo, CNN

Ethical products are always tricky to find on the shelves of mainstream retail stores, but when it comes to organic food, you’re guaranteed a fresh look. Not only are organic foods a good choice for you, but they help to protect the environment, supply clean water to the poor and help to reduce waste by using no pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

There are many factors that determine the quality of your grocery shopping experience, from whether your grocer’s farm stands out in terms of agricultural excellence to whether the produce you pick up is fresh or not. And with the Sri Lankan nation poised to go organic, an organic wine is joining the Sri Lankan and South Asian market as well.

The biggest player in Sri Lanka’s organic farming scene is Small Craftsman Perini, an organic farming collective in the South Island, whose head, Thushara Somawansa, feels that organic farming’s success in Sri Lanka and South Asia is an economic development story in itself. “Overall, the organic food industry is doing better in the next ten years than in the last 10 years,” said Somawansa in an interview. “It will increase over the next 10 years as well.”

So why, 10 years after the country declared a nationwide moratorium on corporate farming, has Sri Lanka decided to go organic?

“(The country) chose to go organic because of some ecological reasons: to reduce pollution to the aquatic eco-system, to reduce transport emissions, to create a healthy eating environment in Sri Lanka as well as Asia,” said Somawansa.

Retail trade in Sri Lanka is increasingly being centered around organic farming, helping to bolster the country’s environmental footprint. Sri Lanka is set to become one of the world’s top five countries for buying organic food, according to the World Economic Forum’s Human Capital Index 2018. It was ranked number four behind the UK, Netherlands and Switzerland.

At the same time, Sri Lanka is also a net exporter of organic grapes in May, a trade that has grown from just two tonnes in 2006 to 45 tonnes in 2017. In the last 10 years, imports of organic wine from Sri Lanka have increased from about 7,000 bottles to more than 105,000 bottles, according to industry experts.

In the South Pacific, Fiji and New Zealand dominate the market for organic food. In the Middle East, however, the US and Canada form the biggest market for organic wine.

It was these factors, along with a government subsidizing small farmers, that spurred Sri Lanka’s decision to go organic, according to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations senior agricultural research officer Janika Chergdadares.

“Sri Lanka is currently a net exporter of raw organic products such as rice,” Chergdadares added. “To the extent the demand in Asia is increasing for these organic produce, these are imported, but Sri Lanka is essentially doing the whole value chain.”

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