Once renown as the granary of Asia while being recognized for superior agricultural produce and gifted with unique attributes, Sri Lanka today is experiencing major collapse in overall agricultural productivity.This has resulted in shock waves of food shortages and exorbitant price hikes leading to partial starvation among various socioeconomic strata of the country’s population. This was revealed at an interactive gathering of agri industry professionals and subject experts from the local and global arena on Friday.
Addressing the interactive gathering themed “Role of Agric Inputs in Food Security” at the Waters Edge, Battaramulla, Chairman of Croplife, Chamenda Wijerathna said that numerous economic and policy mishaps were evident during 2021-2022 period; especially the banning of essential fertilizers, pesticides and other vital agri inputs resulted in the collapse in overall agriculture productivity.
Wijerathna said that ranging from Sri Lanka’s sole-staple of rice, all crop sectors including maize, tea, upcountry and low country vegetables suffered substantial negative impacts in the aftermath of short-supplied agri inputs. A recent study revealed the magnitude of the impact where increases in the cost of production has exceeded 67 per cent while reduction of average yield has been recorded at 54 per cent.
Subsequently, the selling price of agricultural produce has increased exponentially causing various consumer segments to reduce or totally give up buying their requirements.Overall, there has been more than a 45% increase of the selling price at every level of agricultural value chains,” Wijerathna said.
He said that achievement of self sufficiency in rice since the 1990’s had been an remarkable milestone reflecting the expertise, dedication and capability of cross-sectoral stakeholders to drive the country’s agriculture in the correct path.
“This progress has been severely affected over the last year, resulting in 51 per cent yield loss, 67 per cent increase in expenditure for crop production while selling prices gained 46 per cent.”
Maize, another remarkable crop, recorded improved productivity and export potential several years back. It has taken a hard hit witnessing 59 per cent yield loss, 66 per cent increase in cost of production while selling price has risen only 47 per cent.
“Vegetables both upcountry and low country have been no exceptions in terms of the depressing impacts of wrong policy decisions. Absence of pesticides and fertilizers have resulted in yield losses in upcountry and low country vegetables at the levels of 61 per cent and 51 per cent consecutively.
“Selling price of both vegetable types touched an increase of 50 per cent. COP of low country vegetables increased by 65 per cent while the upcountry vegetables recorded a staggering 70 per cent increase of production cost.Croplife Secretary Buddhika Ekanayake said that there were deep driven impacts caused by the absence of proper agri inputs which will be hard to tackle in another season or years’ time.
He said that Croplife has recognized following areas that will pause chronic and long term threats for the food production if not dealt with cautiously and collaboratively by all stakeholders: (1) Loss of farm output prompting elevated farm gate prices causing prohibitive prices tags right from the beginning of crop value chains.
(2) Avenues being created for the entry of illegal, substandard and dangerous pesticides to reach to local agrochemical market. Numerous occurrences of smuggled pesticides from India and elsewhere were reported by farmers, consumers and environmental activists.
(3) Unaffordable input costs have largely resulted in farmers giving up cultivation paving way for a multitude of economic and social issues. Farmers protests were widely evident during recent months. Anger and frustration of the uncertainties to be contended with were freely expressed.
Croplife Treasurer, Shamal Abeysinghe, industry professionals and subject experts at local and global arena and local politicians also addressed the interactive gathering.
Prez to unveil plan on 13 A
SJB, SLPP rebels to boycott opening of new parliamentary session
By Saman Indrajith
The main Opposition party, the SJB, and the dissident SLPP MPs have decided to boycott the ceremonial opening of the Fourth session of the Ninth Parliament by President Ranil Wickremessinghe today.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe declared, on January 26, that he would brief Parliament on his decision to implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution fully.
MP Prof G.L. Peiris told the media that the FPC would boycott President Wickremesinghe’s speech, scheduled to take place today (08) when the Fourth session of the Parliament is ceremonially declared open.
Prof Peiris called the ceremonial opening of the new parliamentary session a mere show. “This is not acceptable. The people are fed up with policy statements. They need solutions instead,” he said.
Chief Opposition Whip and SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, addressing a press conference, at the Opposition Leader’s office in Colombo yesterday said that his party members too would boycott today’s ceremony.
Kiriella said that President Wickremesinghe was now speaking of economic development in 2048. “This he is promising to do while doing everything possible under the sun and the moon to deprive people of their democratic right to an election. Therefore, we have decided not to attend President’s ceremonial treading of the government policy statement which is another example of this makeshift government’s predilection for waste of money and time.”
All Ceylon Tamil Congress, led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, too, has decided to boycott today’s sessions.
TNA spokesman, Jaffna District MP MA Sumanthiran, said that his party would attend Parliament sessions today.
Political party sources said that TNA, JVP, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and All Ceylon Makkal Congress, in the Opposition ranks, however, would attend Parliament today.
Following the ceremonial opening of the day’s session, the President is scheduled to present the Statement of Government Policy in Parliament, at 10 am, according to the powers vested in him, under Article 33 of the Constitution.
A rehearsal for the ceremonial opening was held Monday at the Parliament premises where many, including students of Presidents’ Girls College, Kotte, were present.
MSC America belonging to largest shipping line calls at ECT
MSC America, the first container vessel under the business promotions programme to attract new lines to the Port of Colombo (POC), called at the East Container Terminal (ECT), owned by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority yesterday (07).
The latest programme to attract new shipping lines to the POC has been planned and implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT), South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT), Ceylon Association of Shipping Agents (CASA) and Sri Lanka Association of Vessel Owners (SLAVO) to effectively address strategic business promotions as a fruitful mean to overcome the prevailing economic crisis. Attracting more new lines to the POC, increasing operational efficiency, expediting naval services, efficiency in logistics and warehouse management and container and cargo transportation are among the objectives.
MSC America that called at the ECT, owned by the POC, will hereafter operate a weekly call to Colombo.
On the first call, yesterday, the vessel carried 2300TEUs to Colombo and is expected to carry 2500TEUs on a weekly basis. The vessel, with a length of 334m and a 7.5m draft, sails under the flag of Panama. The port rotation includes Singapore and South Africa.
MSC is the largest global shipping line, with a fleet of more than 775 TEU vessels for container transportation around the world. The shipping line that maintains long term operations with the POC has a collaborative business relationship of more than 10 years with SLPA. Since 2015, it is the prime shipping line of the POC with an annual operational capacity of 2.0m TEUs. It performs about 900 calls per annum at the POC.
The deep draft vessels, owned by MSC, call at the CICT of the POC, whilst calling the SLPA controlled JCT and ECT with more than 1.0m TEUS per annum, becoming the main customer of the SLPA.
According to MSC Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd., the local agents for MSC shipping lines, another new three shipping lines, under INGWE West Bound service, East Africa Express service and East Med Service, will be calling this month at the POC.
To mark MSC America’s first call at the POC, a special plaque exchange was held at the ECT of the SLPA between Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva, and the Master of the vessel, Capt. Matlin Alexander. Chairman of SLPA, Keith D Bernard, and several representatives of MSC Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd., also attended the occasion.
Expressing views at the occasion Minister de Silva said:
“With the deep draft of the East Container Terminal, there is ample potential for mega vessels to call at the port. The remaining development process of the terminal is expedited with an investment of Rs.5.9 billion. Today, a mega vessel of the MSC has contributed for container operations via the Port of Colombo. Similarly four new services will be added to increase the capacity of the POC. That will increase our revenue. This has further strengthened the credibility placed by the international shipping community on the Port of Colombo.”
Remembering Upali Wijewardene, the founder of Upali Group
The Upali Group of Companies, its employees, and sales agents countrywide, have made arrangements to invoke blessings on its founder, Upali Wijewardene, who disappeared in his Learjet, 40 years ago. Bodhi Pooja, Pahan Pooja and an alms-giving will be held, in his memory, on Feb. 13 (Monday).
A special Bodhi Pooja will be held at the Kelani Raja Maha Viharaya, at 6 p.m. on February 13 with the blessings of Prof. Ven. Kollupitiye Mahinda Sangarakkhitha Thera, the Chief Incumbent of Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya.
Arrangements have been made to offer alms to the Maha Sangha at the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya, and scholarships to 10 needy children, from the Helena Wijewardene Maha Vidyalaya, Kelaniya.
Alms-giving to the inmates of the Home for the Elders at Mulgampola, Kandy, Bodhi Pooja Pinkama and Kavi Bana Pinkama, from 4.30 p.m. onwards, at the Ceylon Chocolates factory premises.
Bodhipooja, Pahan Pooja and Kavibana deshana will be held at Vidya Niketha Piriven Viharaya, Sapugoda Kamburupitiya.
The employees of Upali Consumer Products have arranged an alms-giving lunch at the ‘Children’s Home’ at Ja-Ela.
Founder’s Day Programme on February 13, 2023.
9.00 a.m. – Holy Mass at Mattakkuliya Church.
10.00 a.m. – Offering of Buddhapooja at the ‘Dhathumandiriya’.
10.30 a.m. – Scholarships to 10 needy children from Helena Wijewardene Maha Vidyalaya, Kelaniya.
11.30 a.m. – Alms-giving for the Maha Sangha at Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya.
12 noon – Providing lunch for the Children’s Home, Ja-Ela, organized by the employees of Upali Trading Co. Ltd.
5.15 p.m. – Offering Gilanpasapooja (permissible drinks) for Dhathumandiraya.
6.00 p.m. – Bodhi Pooja and Pahan Pooja at Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya.
All these pinkamas (meritorious acts) are organized by Upali Group employees and newspaper, Kandos/Delta and soap agents.
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