Upgrading Wood Based Industries in Sri Lanka with special reference to Moratuwa Furniture Cluster
H S Amarasekera
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
The wood-based industry is one of the oldest industries in the country that provides livelihood to many people in both rural and urban areas. However, the industry has been in a state of deterioration in terms of quality and competitiveness due to inadequate wood supply in term of quality and quantity, unfavorable business climate, scarcity of trained manpower, lack of market opportunities, research support and finances for investments to improve the industry.
There are around 1700 industries in Moratuwa wood based furniture cluster and it has been in existence for many decades. This industry has deteriorated over the years and is currently incapable of producing furniture of high quality for the export market. However large firms in the cluster use advanced technology and have a totally integrated production process with saw mills, timber seasoning and treatment facilities indicating that it is an organized cluster that can be upgraded to an innovative cluster by implementing a comprehensive development program.
There have been several initiatives on development of wood working industry and timber utilization research on timber processing have yielded data towards upscaling and redefining the small timber manufactures in Sri Lanka. The key options that can be adopted to improve the industry are to improve utilization of available sustainable timber resources to increase the supply of raw materials to the Moratuwa cluster, improve product quality, increase marketability of products and minimize environmental pollution. Selected industries in this cluster can be upgraded into international standards by introduction of new technology and transfer of knowledge, providing systematic training in improving furniture designing, timber preservation, seasoning and machine maintaining capabilities.
Achievement of productive wood products industry will make a significant contribution towards employment generation and increasing the percentage of contribution to GDP by Timber based products.
Keywords – wood industry, furniture, forestry, timber, development plan