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China funds USD 1.1 mn project to strengthen fruit value-chains

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Inaugural meeting of the project to improve the production and commercialization of fruit value-chains in Sri Lanka. (Seated from Left) Dr. Gamini Samarasinghe, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Senior Professor Udith K. Jayasinghe – Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Ajantha de Silva – Director General of Agriculture and Dr. D.B.T Wijeratne – Assistant FAO Representative (Programmes).

A project to provide technical assistance to improve the production and commercialisation of fruit value-chains in Sri Lanka has been launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture with financial assistance from China. The USD 1.1 mn project is implemented under the FAO-China South-South Cooperation Tripartite Agreement between FAO, the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

The following is the text of a statement issued by FAO Office in Colombo regarding the project:

 “Sri Lanka has a rich diversity of fruits with approximately 100 edible fruit crops and the potential for a more profitable industry. However the fruit sector remains under-developed and suffers from poor cultivation and high post-harvest losses leading to low yield and inadequate adherence to international quality standards. The FAO-China South-South Cooperation Project which will be implemented in the Kalutara, Gampaha, Moneragala, Anuradhapura and Kilinochchi districts in Sri Lanka, will prioritise the productivity, production and commercialisation of three main fruit value-chains; banana, mango and pineapple in the domestic and export markets.

 Aimed at developing an inclusive and efficient agribusiness sector in Sri Lanka, the project will increase capacities of processors, traders and other value chain actors to adopt improved post-harvest and processing practices, technologies, business skills and quality standards allowing better domestic and export market opportunities. Public-private partnerships will be promoted to attract medium to large scale investments in fruit orchards and processing.

 Speaking at the project inception meeting in Colombo, Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture Senior Professor Udith K. Jayasinhe expressed his gratitude to the Government of China, noting that support towards the development of market-oriented inclusive agri-food value chains, particularly high value commercial crops such as fruits is in-line with the priorities of Sri Lanka’s agricultural policy. Prof. Jayasinghe also stated that the project will create opportunities to explore new export markets including in China for fruits, in both fresh and processed forms, from Sri Lanka.

Xie Jianmin, Counsel (Director-General level), Department of International Cooperation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China (MARA) stated that “China attaches great importance to agricultural development. While addressing and ensuring national food security, China also actively participates in multilateral South-South Cooperation in agriculture, promoting agricultural development and food security in developing countries. We look forward to collaborating closely with Sri Lanka and FAO, develop innovative models and create new prospects for cooperation in agriculture.”

 Experts and technicians will be fielded over a period of two years to offer technical guidance to communities through practical field-based trainings including the setting-up of model fruit farms, training of trainers, and farmer field schools.

 Director of FAO’s South-South and Triangular Cooperation Division, Ye Anping highlighted the important role of the experts from Sri Lanka, noting that “the experts and institutions from Sri Lanka have a critical role to play in ensuring that the technologies and practices from China are relevant, replicable and adapted to the local conditions.”



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Forex crisis will lead to power cuts, warns Ranil

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Udaya pooh-poohs warning

By Saman indrajith

UNP leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday told Parliament that the country would face power cuts soon if the government did not resolve the foreign exchange crisis urgently.

Participating in the third reading debate on Budget 2022, the UNP leader said the forex issue could result in Sri Lanka running out of money to import fuel.

Wickremesinghe called on the government to make a statement on the current situation.

The UNP leader pointed out that Sri Lanka had only Rs. 1.5 billion in foreign reserves, out of which Rs. 300 million were gold reserves, which meant only Rs. 1.2 billion was the liquid amount in foreign reserves.

The former PM said the low foreign reserves could lead to the country facing power issues in the future as there would be no funds left for fuel imports. However, the Minister of Power, Udaya Gammanpila, assured that Sri Lanka had enough fuel stocks.

The Minister said it was reasonable for people to assume that there would be power cuts in the future due to the foreign exchange crisis.

Reiterating that Sri Lanka had necessary fuel stocks, Minister Gammanpila said the fuel in hand was sufficient for the next 40 days.

Although the Sapugaskanda Oil refinery had been closed for 50 days, measures would be taken to resume operations at an early date, the Minister added, assuring that the foreign exchange crisis would not result in power cuts.

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State Minister Ranasinghe assures farmers using organic fertiliser compensation in event of losses

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Provincial Councils and Local Government State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe speaking at a meeting held at the auditorium of the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat yesterday

Provincial Councils and Local Government State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe yesterday assured that the government would compensate any paddy farmer who suffered losses due to adopting organic fertiliser.

Speaking at a meeting held at the auditorium of the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat, the Minister said that even if the government had not proposed to allocate funds in the Budget proposals for possible losses to paddy farmers using organic fertiliser, funds would be obtained from a supplementary estimate for the purpose.

Ranasinghe said that it was wrong to state that the government shifted from chemical to organic fertiliser abruptly. The government had promised to do so in its election manifesto and people had approved it by giving a two-third majority of votes for that. The UNP too had planned to adopt organic fertilisers in place of chemical fertilisers some 30 years back.

The State Minister said that during the past 30 years all the governments had spent billions of rupees to increase awareness of organic fertilisers among officials and the general public. In addition, there had been numerous projects introduced with the assistance of the World Bank to promote organic cultivation in the country.

Minister Ranasinghe said that there were chemical fertilisers, weedicides and pesticides and there was information that some traders sell them at exorbitant prices. The government would get the Consumer Affairs Authority and police to implement the law against the black marketers.

He said that some farmers had raised concern that nano-nitrogen fertiliser would be washed away owing to the heavy rains, but the government would supply that fertiliser again as it was promised by State Minister of Organic Fertilizer Sashindra Rajapaksa.

The meeting was attended by ministry officials and representatives of the farmers’ associations in the Polonnaruwa District.

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Arjuna quits UNP

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World Cup winning captain and former minister Arjuna Ranatunga yesterday quit the UNP over its failure to get its act together

Ranatunga has communicated his decision to leave the UNP to the Leader, Secretary, Deputy Leader, and the Assistant Leader of the UNP.

Ranatunga said, in a letter to the UNP leadership, that he decided to join the United National Front ahead of the 2015 presidential election to make a change for the common good.

He has said as the first step towards that objective he contested the 2015 general election and secured the highest number of votes from the Gampaha District.

Ranatunga said that when many left the party in 2020, he remained with the UNP in order to protect it.

He said in 2020 the UNP suffered a massive loss, “and what is required is to prepare a programme to overcome the present and future challenges”.

“However, as there seems to be no such preparation there appears to be no purpose in remaining with the party”, Ranatunga said.

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