Insight - Sri Lanka’s rule changes mean fresh opportunities for grain, pulse and oilseed exporters

Sri Lanka’s National Plant Quarantine Service approved in-transit phosphine fumigation treatment for Australian grains, pulses and oil seeds in May 2021. The new biosecurity agreement between Australia and Sri Lanka will provide greater flexibility for Australian exporters.

This agreement further strengthens Australia’s trade relationship with Sri Lanka. It is the result of market access negotiations by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment through its agriculture counsellor network.

Phosphine is used throughout the world to control insects in grains, seeds and plant products and prepared foods. Phosphine is preferred to other treatment options, such as methyl-bromide, because it does not adversely affect the germination of the seeds.

In-transit treatment enables product to be treated while on its way to Sri Lanka. This means grains, pulses and oil seeds can be exported without waiting for treatment, reducing time and costs.

Reducing supply-chain expenses for Australian exporters is critical, particularly with ongoing high global shipping costs in 2021.

What exporters should do

Australian grain, pulse and oil seed exporters should assess the relative attractiveness of the Sri Lankan market with the efficiencies gained through this agreement.

Exporters should contact Sri Lankan importers or Austrade to explore potential opportunities in Sri Lanka.


Import requirements for exporting to Sri Lanka are available through the Manual of Importing Country Requirements website.

Additional information about the Sri Lanka market is available on the Austrade website.


  • Australian grain, pulse and oil seed exports are recovering following the lifting of drought conditions in many production regions.
  • Sri Lanka has historically been a valuable market for Australian pulses, particularly lentils. Sri Lanka was the second most valuable Australian lentil market over 2018-2020 (ABS 2021).
  • Over 2018-2020, Sri Lanka imported on average US$136 million of pulses all sources. (UNComtrade 2021)
  • In Jan-Mar 2021 wheat exports to Sri Lanka were worth more than $70 million, a 2908% increase on the Jan-Mar 2018-2020 average (ABS 2021).