Business Times

Falling farm prices of coconuts

The rapid and continuous declining of farm prices of coconuts is causing serious concerns to the growers. Although representations have been made since October/November 2011 to the authorities concerned no positive steps have been taken to rectify the situation. During the low cropping period -November/December/January - the grower should get a high price whereas it was at a very low level.

At the Colombo Coconut Auction held on May 14 the average traded price was Rs.20.92 and the lowest was Rs.18.50 per nut. As a result the farm price would be between Rs.16 to Rs.18 per nut which may be just adequate to cover the cost of production. The effort made by providing subsidized fertilizer to boost coconut production will get nullified if this trend tends to continue and I therefore please appeal to the authorities concerned to give this matter their early attention.

(Coconut grower)

Hubble-bubble over Pure Ceylon Tea
I have been keenly following the controversial debate on a 'Tea Hub' with much interest. Many learned professionals of both camps (TEA vs PA + TSH) have aired their technical viewpoints over this issue and many new theories are emerging to justify their standings.

My views are from the perspective of a bystander or a layman who sees the generalized factors sans the blending technicalities of tea. Tea has its own sub culture and a heritage nurtured over 140 years. It is a way of living and has a plethora of attitudes. The rich cultures and secrets of the industry have refined through many generations.

The intended move (Tea Hub) will be an obvious threat to the time -tested rich cultures. Not only to the Sri Lankan plantation raj but the direct/indirect players would face a fast death soon just as the Mesopotamian, Egyptian or Mayan civilizations. Then 'Pure Ceylon Tea' will find a place in the history books not at tea auction floors.

The newer version of capitalism has created a new world order and a bunch of cronies who earns (rather robs) quick bucks to be ranked amongst the top in the rich list. They have their own theories to justify these daylight robberies.

(The recent sophisticated bank robbery of NSB acquiring TFC shares at a higher rate was justified by the terms 'horizontal integration' and 'strategic initiative' by both parties. Ironically enough, it is an astrologer who recommended the deal.)

This new genre believes in 'Buying and Selling' only. Buying at a lesser price and selling at a higher price has been the simple theory. Only two parties are involved and it is DONE! Spontaneous and Direct!
They are least bothered or don’t have an iota of recognition in 'Making and Selling'.

Making involves a process, many value additions in between, many direct/indirect people’s participation and it is called an industry. People involved and the industry has a mutual bond called 'interdependency' and this propels the industry forward. Today’s generation studying in the modern school of economics doesn’t believe in this harmony and they just insist on ‘Buying and Selling’.

Here is a story to amplify this modern trend: One Sri Lankan entrepreneur wanted to commence a nail manufacturing factory. He planned to import machinery from China, raw materials (steel) from India and set up a factory at an industrial zone in Matara. Wen he shared this idea over a drink with a friend, an MBA holder, who had returned from the US, the latter with a mocking laugh told the entrepreneur, “Why'd ya make nails when you can get a nail at 1 cent from China and sell here at Rs. 1. I'll fix the deal for you”. This is exactly the role of what the ‘Tea Hub’ will play here. Sri Lanka is famous for many Hubs. With the low grade imported 'kunu' teas, soon it will be the 'kunuhabba' of the world, a title more adorned than 'Miracle of Asia'.

Ajith Alawatte,

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