ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter

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.

Later, he sits in a half-lit, crumbling building filled with the aroma of the spice. The sharp fragrance spreads as the 57-year-old scrapes the outer bark, massages the golden brown inner bark and then, with a sharp knife, gently teases out long strips of cinnamon to dry. "There is a lot of cinnamon to harvest, not just here but in other towns," said Sumathipala, who has been at his craft for more than 40 years, having learnt the trade from his father.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

Discover the all new Nikkei Asia app

  • Take your reading anywhere with offline reading functions
  • Never miss a story with breaking news alerts
  • Customize your reading experience

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more