Sri Lanka being tropical and idyllically rooted in the midst of the Indian Ocean is endowed with two monsoons, creating rainfall in the Island in two distinctively unique times each year, with insignificant occasional rainfall during inter-monsoonal periods. Hence, we experience a bimodal rainfall patterns, resulting in several cropping seasons annually.
The volume of average rainfall divides the country into three significant agro-ecological zones. The Dry Zone (Low Country) receives less than 1750mm of rainfall on average each year, comprises of 4.17 million hectares of land, whereas the Wet Zone (Up Country – Highlands) encompassing 1.54 million hectares of land area, receives more than 2500mm of rainfall annually, between is the Intermediate Zone (Mid Country) where the rainfall is 1750-2500mm on average covering an extent of 0.85 hectares. The country’s soil contains nine of the ten soil orders of the soil taxonomy (USDA) which emphasizes on the degree of potentiality required for agricultural development.
Plantations that involve vegetable cultivation ranges from 0.09 to 0.37 hectares in the Dry Zone whilst, the Wet Zone holds approximately 0.57 to 1.46 hectares of cultivating land. Greater volume of our vegetables belonging to the temperate category is produced in the highlands of Nuwera-Eliya and Badulla districts where the supply of water is generously available for vegetables to be cultivated throughout the year. Cabbage, leeks, carrots, potato, radish, beetroot and lettuce are identified as some of the high cropping intensity vegetables in this part of the agro-ecological zone. In most parts of the dry and intermediate zones and also in certain parts of the mid-country wet zone regions, vegetables such as, chillies, tomato, capsicum, brinjal, gherkin, pumpkin and onion are extensively cropped whereas in the mid elevated regions different varieties of tomato, radish, okra, capsicum, brinjal, beetroot and gherkins are commonly found.
Our most imperative fruit cultivating plantations belongs to banana, papaya, rambutan, mango and pineapple which are grown in an extensive scale. Banana and wood-apple groves are mainly found in the dry zone areas in lowlands either in close proximity to water tanks or along river banks under irrigation. Papaya is vastly cultivated in dry and intermediate zones whereas rambutan is cropped broadly in mid and low country wet-zones of the Island. The agro-climate in the dry and intermediate zones are ideally suited for fruits to enhance its appearance, flavour and colour.
The Department of Agriculture in Sri Lanka has emphasized on promoting and developing orchard type of cultivation which would increase productivity and the contribution of the agricultural sector to the GDP at least by 30% to 35% by the year 2020, hence increase in the contribution to the overall economy.