The Sri Lankan government has adopted a five-year plan to boost annual national income from exports of spice and allied products from SL Rupees 6.5bn (US$67m) in 2001 to SL Rupees 30bn in 2006.

An optimistic Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Ravi Karunanayake told the Spices and Allied Products Producers and Trade Association (SAPPTA) that revenues will increase to SL Rupees 15bn this year.

As well as directly promoting exports, he said that the government would shore up production, maybe by doling out land to would-be producers.

Half of the 40,000 tonnes of chilli consumed by Sri Lankans annually is imported, Karunanayake noted.

Weak branding, research and standardisation also needed attention, SAPPTA heard.

By correspondent Swineetha Dias Wickramanayaka, in Columbo