Sugar production in Sri Lanka

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Sugarcane production in Sri Lanka is the major sucrose extracting crop used in sugar industry in Sri Lanka. Sugar is considered as one of the main food items consumed in Sri Lanka. Therefore, sugar production and price is directly affects day-to-day life in the country.

The annual per capita consumption of sugar in Sri Lanka is around 30 kg and the total annual requirement of sugar in the country is around 550,000 t. In 2012 the country only produced 42,940 tonnes and imported 593,870 tonnes,[1] with only approximately 7% of the annual requirement produced locally. The balance requirement has to be imported. The total annual expenditure on sugar imports is around Rs. 20 billion. In 2008, 575, 000 t of sugar have been imported at a cost of Rs. 22.3 billion.


During the colonial occupation of Ceylon and following the lifting of the ban on the purchase of land by Europeans in 1810 and the elimination of land tax on export crops by the Governor of Ceylon, Edward Barnes in 1824, there was a period of experimentation (1823-1839) with a number of different cash crops, including sugar. There are a number of potential reasons, primarily social and environmental, why sugar production failed to become an established industry on the island. As although the southern coastal areas were most suited for sugarcane cultivation this land was being used extensively for rice cultivation and the Ceylonese owners were unwilling to sell their land. In the interior the soil was too wet and the lack of available transport was a problem. The only sugar plantations that survived from this period were in the south coast near Galle. In the early 1850s the country had just become self-reliant in respect to sugar production but by the 1860s the industry was virtually non-existent.

Sugar Production in Sri Lanka (1998-2012)[2]
Year Local Production % of Total Supply Imports % of Total Supply Total Supply
1998 62,670 12.23 449,780 87.77 512,450
1999 65,520 11.98 481,400 88.02 546,920
2000 64,310 9.48 570,380 89.87 634,690
2001 47,920 10.13 457,440 90.52 505,360
2002 37,550 6.20 567,690 93.8 605,240
2003 54,370 9.36 562,720 90.64 581,090
2004 60,330 10.38 496,520 89.17 556,850
2005 57,410 11.46 443,600 88.54 501,010
2006 59,540 10.26 520,600 89.74 580,140
2007 33,460 6.64 470,520 93.36 503,980
2008 39,830 6.61 562,660 93.39 602,490
2009 33,870 6.85 460,700 93.15 494,570
2012 42,940 6.74 593,870 93.26 636,810

Sugarcane Cultivation

Sugarcane is the major sucrose extracting crop used for sugar production in Sri Lanka. Due to high temperature and dry condition available in Eastern part of the country, Sugarcane is ideal crop to cultivate for sugar production. Chiefly Monaragala District and Ampara District are largely giving their contribution to sugarcane crop cultivation for uplifting the country's economy while declining annual expenditure spend for sugar import. Four sugarcane plantations have largely involved to sugar production in Sri Lanka. They are Pellwatte, Hingurana, Sevanagala and Kanthale. Due to the civil war taken place in last few decades in the country Kanthale sugar processing plant and the plantation was closed and the production has not been started yet. Sri Lankan government has being discussed with some investors to commence its production in near future to avail its contribution again to the country's sugar production.


  1. "Summary of Food Balance Sheet - 2012" (PDF). Department of Census and Statistics. 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2015. 
  2. "Production, Imports and Availability of Sugar 1998 - 2006". Department of Census and Statistics. 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2015.