A wide range of tropical and some temperate fruit crops can be grown in Sri Lanka. There are about 55 fruit cultivars are present in the country. Some of them are cultivated while the others are in the wild and yet to be explored on domesticated. Total extent cultivated to fruit crops is estimated to be around 147,000 ha and the total annual production is about 647,000 mt. Cultivation of fruit crops is mainly confined either to home garden level or to non-commercial cultivations where a mixture of fruit trees are cultivated in small land holdings. However a few crops such as pineapple, banana and rambutan are being grown on medium scale commercial cultivation.
The potential for cultivating fruit crops for both domestic and export market is high. In year 2000 country exported about 6000mt of fresh and dried fruits. In contrast the country also imports a large quantity of fruits annually. In 2000 the total imports were 41000 mt to a value of rs. 1.2 billion. The major constraints that limit the expansion of the area and production are lack of technology, unavailability of suitable varieties, insufficient storage facilities during the glut, poor coordination between producers and processors and poor marketing system. However, there is an increasing interests over the past few years to cultivate fruit crops on a commercial scale and the potential for including them in different cropping system is high. The country has the natural resources to exploit to meet both emerging domestic and international market opportunities.
This has created a new demand for better varieties, improved technologies on production, harvesting and processing. In this cirecumstances the demand for quality planting material will automatically increase. Development of scientific and technological base that will permit exploitation of a available resources to improve this sector is essential. This clearlyshows that the fruit production in Sri Lanka will confront tremendous challenge over the comingyears. Considering the economic benefits that this sector can bring to the national economy the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Food and Cooperative Development establishmed a separate research centre for research and development of fruit crops. The immediate challenge that the centre facing is to explot all available information and prepare a strategic plan for the future. The nature of future technological development and the task of assuring access to knowledge and technological advances are critical issues the centre will have to address. In developing technology and introducting them to farmers due considerations will have to be given to economic environmental and sociological consequences that this new sector can impose on existing production systems. In order for better economic performance good market mechnisms will have to be established and linkages between economic performance good market mechanisms will have to be established and linkages between producers and processors will have to be strengthened.