prepares for green revolution
farm economy, lacking in direction in recent times with disputes between
ministers handling agriculture and trade over imports and local produce,
is heading for a major change with a roadmap being prepared with Indian
Swaminathan, a top Indian scientist considered the father of the
green revolution in Asia, was invited by the government to study
and report on Sri Lanka's agriculture policies. In a report to the
government, he has suggested - among many other proposals - the
creation of the Sri Lanka Council for Agricultural Research and
Rural Technology (CART), a Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium
(SFAC) and pioneer projects in Mahaweli areas.
The farm economy,
once the backbone of the country, has deteriorated because of lack
of interest by the state, high cost of production and cheaper imports.
This has led to a social upheaval with some farmers, heavily in
debt, committing suicide and their children moving away from agriculture
to work in the military, garment factories or in the Middle East.
New government policies are aimed at making farms viable and attractive.
however, Swaminathan says that Sri Lanka has one of the lowest rural
to urban migration rates among developing countries suggesting that
this may be due to additional employment opportunities created by
irrigation projects. He recommended the development of the Mahaweli
project area into a major centre for agricultural diversification
and value addition through agro-industries, since paddy cultivation
farming systems and happy families should be the bottom line of
any agricultural strategy," the Indian expert says, noting
that with land being a shrinking resource there is a need to improve
productivity without social harm or ecological damage.
CART will bridge
the gap between academic know-how and field implementation and would
have financial and functional autonomy. Swaminathan's report said
CART could promote precision agriculture to ensure high productivity
and low costs, harness biotechnology and strategic and participatory
research with farming families.
of rural knowledge centres has been recommended while agri-clinics
and agri-business centres would enhance the cost and quality of
farm produce. The SFAC should be organised in each of the nine provinces
to have synergies with the programmes of the private, public and
has recommended a national food and water security system with food
availability, food access and food absorption being the main components.
To strengthen soil health management, a soil health card has been
recommended for farmer families.
rice farming technologies including the cultivation of appropriate
rice hybrids have been recommended to raise output to six tonnes
per hectare from four tonnes currently.
says Sri Lanka has a unique opportunity of making the Mahaweli development
area the flagship of an 'evergreen' revolution movement, noting
that since the country has achieved a demographic transition to
low birth and death rates, it will be easy for the country to produce
the rice it needs for home consumption.
also include adopting a crop-livestock-fish integrated rice farming
system; establishing rice refineries to commercialise straw, bran
and husk and developing speciality rice for export.
importers fail to comply with rules
40 percent of Sri Lanka's importers and manufacturers of pharmaceuticals
have in the past failed to comply with a request from the Fair Trading
Commission (FTC) to provide information on imports, prices and the
source of imports, officials said.
we make a request for information, only 60 percent of importers
and manufacturers comply," a FTC spokeswoman said adding that
they now plan to take action against companies who fail to comply
with the request. The FTC's latest letter to firms seeking such
information was issued on June 6.
Under the FTC
Act, violators are liable to fines or a jail term if found guilty.
said the information is not published but sought to enable the FTC
to track prices, imports and the countries from where drugs originate.
said Commerce Minister Ravi Karunanayake is keen to de-control drug
prices and allow parallel imports to curb the sharply rising cost
SAGT battle over tariff rebates
main transshipment terminals at Colombo port appear to be going
their own ways in the container tariff rebate scheme.
Gateway Terminals has told the Sri Lanka Ports Authority that it
intends to have its own rebate scheme for transshipment tariffs.
The move came
after the SLPA announced a new rebate scheme last month to encourage
shipping lines to call at the port and move more boxes.
The SLPA said
at the time that it had given SAGT the required notice and implied
that it expects SAGT to follow suit. But SAGT maintains it was not
consulted about the new scheme and had not agreed to it.
feel only a common rebate scheme would work properly because many
shipping lines use both terminals.
believe it is in the best interest of the port for them (SLPA) to
have a rebate scheme and for us to have a different scheme,"
said John Buckley, CEO of SAGT.
shipping lines, believe there is no need for a common rebate and
that competition between terminals is healthy.
see why there should be uniformity in rebates," said Rohan
Abeywickrema of Sea Consortium, a big feeder operator. "Terminals
can have different philosophies of doing business - the good thing
is they are competing and competition is good for port users."
It is up to
shipping lines to work out how best to benefit from the different
rebates offered by the two terminal operators, he said.
has a higher base than the SLPA's, offering the first rebate for
volumes between 25,001 and 50,000 boxes. The SLPA's new scheme lowered
the minimum container volume threshold under which lines can get
rebates to 10,000 boxes a year from 25,000 boxes previously.
that having two rebate schemes will cost shipping lines more because
lines handle boxes at both terminals and the volumes they would
have to move to qualify for rebates at one terminal would be effectively
a raft of costs that lines pay such as tariffs, bunkering, shipping
agents' fees,length of port stay, other marine services that a port
provides and customs charges," said Buckley. "By just
manipulating the port tariff in isolation of all other components
is not going to achieve much at all."
that the port should look at "the whole picture" including
raising efficiency, Buckley said.
are certainly better but we've a long, long way to go," he
SPMC in Rs. 250 mln expansion
By Hiran Senewiratne
The State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC)
intends to modernise its factory at Ratmalana with an investment
of Rs. 250 million to expand production capacity, its chairman,
K.M.S.B. Rekogama, said.
Once the proposed
modernisation and extension projects are completed SPMC plans to
enter into strategic alliances and joint ventures with international
pharmaceutical companies with the aim of bringing new technology
and capital into the industry, he sad. There were many inquiries
from pharmaceutical firms to form strategic alliances, he added.
SPMC has an
annual installed capacity of 550 million units of tablets and capsules
and 60,000 litres of dry syrup. It is Sri Lanka's biggest producer
of drugs and markets its products under the SPC label.
is to supply the best quality drugs at an affordable price to local
people," Rekogama said.
said that apart from the proposed projects they have invested Rs.
20 million to upgrade the packaging and storage section.
52 generic drugs, which accounts for less than 25 percent of the
country's drug requirements.
SMPC last year
exported 70 million anti-filaria tablets worth of Rs. 5.5 million
to more than 10 countries including Egypt, Philippines, Myanmar,
and the United States. Rekogama said that the corporation is a self-funded,
autonomous entity with an annual turnover of Rs. 400 million.
the LTTE want us?
A seminar exploring the business community's role
in the peace process last week heard a lot about the opportunities
and social benefits of conducting business in the north and east,
but there was one question to which nobody seemed to have an answer.
a need for the LTTE to welcome business?" asked Julian Davis,
a garment exporter. "Because I won't go if I'm not welcome."
arose after debate about how businesses commencing operations in
the north and east should respond to the LTTE's demands for tax
Saravanathan, research fellow at the International Centre for Ethnic
Studies, said the LTTE's "arbitrary taxation" of goods
and vehicles entering the Wanni and Jaffna created "a moral
hazard and an ethical dilemma for entrepreneurs planning to establish
manufacturing, trading or service-oriented business [in the region]."
to pay the tax was the most ethically correct option, it may not
be the most practical, he said.
For other companies,
there are further complications.
the deputy chairman of John Keells Holdings (JKH) and the president
of the SriLankaFirst pro-peace business lobby, said JKH could not
pay the LTTE tax because it is a public company.
He said JKH
has investments in Jaffna that have been losing money for years,
but the group is now looking to grow its presence in the northern
city through the construction of a 100-room hotel.
In fact, there
was broad agreement at the seminar as to the opportunities and economic
and social benefits of businesses from the south making inroads
into he conflict-affected areas.
But while Davis
agreed that he would like to conduct business anywhere there was
demand, this was not a policy without limits. "We don't go
to places where we are not welcome," he said.
to places where they say 'come.'"
Renton de Alwis,
Secretary-General of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and former chairman
of the Ceylon Tourist Board, replied that the business community
should focus on the benefits of business and not be automatically
deterred by the taxes.
think there are [LTTE] terms that are non-negotiable in any sense,"
"I feel we ought to be pro-active and reach out as well."
Thiagarajah from the Consortium of Human Rights, provided a more
developing plans for the north-east. But we have not thought it
fit to ask them [what their plans are.]" The seminar was hosted
by the Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Ceylon Chamber of