Sri Lanka was once the third-largest producer of coffee in the world. Devastatingly, the coffee leaf rust disease wiped out the country’s plantations in the 1860s and exports have remained low ever since.
The local coffee industry has experienced a resurgence in the past 20 years, particularly concentrated around developing quality Arabica coffees of local origin. During this time, the industry has steadily grown across the value chain, with farmers, plantations, processors, roasters and governmental/non-governmental stakeholders increasingly investing in locally processed quality coffees for domestic and international markets.
Within the domestic market, novelty coffee shops and locally sourced single-origin coffee brands continue to grow as the ‘coffee culture’ attracts more investors looking for new and innovative business opportunities. However, the industry has so far not had a single entity that represents it and its interests.
Recently, this growing interest culminated in a group of coffee industry stakeholders joining forces to establish Sri Lanka’s first-ever national coffee association. The ‘Lanka Coffee Association’ (LCA) is housed under the Sri Lanka Agripreneurs Forum (SLAF). The LCA represents the collective interests of all stakeholders working towards developing Sri Lanka’s coffee industry to reach new heights.
“Our goal is for all stakeholders to work together in a strategic manner, to elevate the Sri Lankan coffee industry. In addition, the LCA will provide a common platform to voice the industry’s concerns to the Government, and also assist the Government in efficiently disseminating support provided to the industry,” said Lanka Coffee Association Chairperson Rinosh Nasar.
The initiative was supported by the Market Development Facility (MDF), Australia’s flagship private sector development program that has actively partnered with the Sri Lankan coffee industry over the past four years in championing the growth of the specialty coffee sector.
The Lanka Coffee Association will aim to create global recognition for the ‘Ceylon Coffee’ brand and the local specialty coffee industry. Spearheaded by the private sector, the association will build and expand the export profile of Ceylon Coffee through industry-wide collaborative efforts, create standards for coffee farming in Sri Lanka, incentivize farmers to increase coffee production, improve the coffee supply chain via knowledge sharing, research and technology, facilitate price uniformity, lead market-focused initiatives to educate consumers, improve industry coordination, and advocate for the local coffee industry.
Under the mandate of the Sri Lanka Coffee Constitution, a jointly drafted and accepted legal framework by the LCA members, an executive committee was appointed for a tenure period of two years to realize the association’s objectives in a sustainable and equitable manner.