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Labor shortage hits Sri Lanka's cinnamon industry

Dearth of peelers leaves world's leading exporter with harvest shortfalls

Cinnamon peeler Pesthathanthri Sumathipala scraping the outer bark of a cinnamon branch. (Photo by Marwaan Macan-Markar)

NEGOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Along Sri Lanka's west coast, towns like Negombo have abundant green cinnamon farms that keep peelers of the bushes' fragrant inner bark busy. Pesthathanthri Sumathipala, a seasoned peeler, is up at dawn to lead a small crew of peelers through a 20-hectare farm. Skilled eyes are needed to choose which branches to slice for the day's harvest.

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