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‘Government temporarily takes one step forward after many backward steps on agriculture’



By Dr. Hemakumara Nanayakkara

Continued from yesterday

Another less well known example is Cuba. With the collapse of the USSR, Cuba lost access to free or subsidized supplies of fertilizer. Given their trade blockades with the US, the island was forced to go organic. With all of their best effort and no other available options, they were only able to produce 20% of their food requirements, with the remainder having to be imported.

Globally of all the arable land available for commercial cultivation, 1.5% is presently organic. Out of that, 70% is pasture lands which do not require agro-chemicals as they are used for grazing of farm animals, whose excreta fertilizes the soil. Together with natural microbes in the soil, and minute amounts of naturally occurring Nitrogen found in rain water, these pasture lands benefit from a steady release of nitrogen into the soil. With careful planning and agrostological management, it is possible to use these dynamics to supplement nutrition for commercial agriculture.

However, the best examples of these practices are found in Sri Lankan tea producing RPCs which through years of consistent effort and investment, created small organic zones for tea, which they utilize to supply limited demand in niche international markets.

However, collective demand for such products accounts for a fraction of Sri Lanka’s total tea production. This means that even if it were possible to convert the nation’s entire tea sector – and its smallholders – into organic tea, it would create a global oversupply, which would crash prices in these markets.

Exponentially adverse

It is plainly and painfully obvious to every Sri Lankan that the decision to ban import and use of all agro-chemicals without any guidance, or feasible roadmap for farmers and all employed in the plantation sector was issued on a whim and without any plan whatsoever. As a result, this endeavor is doomed to fail. The consequences will be disastrous, and extremely difficult to reverse.

Through a single proclamation, this Government has intentionally compromised food production, and export performance in one fell swoop. This places the nation at risk of famine, and death from food insecurity. Even without the impacts of a fertilizer shortage – which will start to be felt from October, and get exponentially worse thereafter – Sri Lankans are already struggling to meet their daily needs. The Government is openly considering a return to the food rationing of the 1970s. What extremes will be required once food production and export crop yields drop to half of their current levels by 2022?

Sri Lanka cannot afford to find out. In order to save lives, and prevent the decimation of livelihoods, we call upon the Government to reverse their decision immediately. Do the sensible thing: lift the ban on imports of agro-chemicals.


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Cabinet approves rationalization of VAT exemptions and abolition of SVAT System




The Cabinet of Ministers granted concurrence to the resolution forwarded by the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies to remove most of the releases from Value Added Tax (VAT), further retaining releases that ease the pressure on low – income families to secure the fundamental sectors of the economy as well as the releases for sectors such as education, health and agriculture, as well as to revise the provisions applicable for the Value Added Tax (VAT) act so that the Simplified Value Added Tax (SVAT) methodology can be canceled with effect from 01.01.2024 by introducing a more formal methodology for repaying the Value Added Tax (VAT) and to instruct the Legal Draftsman to prepare a draft bill for the purpose.

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Venora Lanka Power Panels to set up assembly plant in Australia



Sagara Gunawardene

By Hiran H.Senewiratne

Sri Lanka- based, export- oriented manufacturer, Venora Lanka Power Panels (Pvt) Ltd, with a state of the art electric panel factory at the Export Processing Zone, Biyagama, will set up an assembly plant in Australia.

“Once we set up the electric panel assembly plant in Australia, we will export all our panels from Sri Lanka and that plant will do 30 percent value addition to the product to supply that market, the company’s chairman/ Managing Director, engineer Sagara Gunawardena told The Island Financial Review.

Gunawardena said that the company is a value- addition assembly plant and he would be investing AUS $ 2 million for the project to be set up in Melbourne and hire 100 engineers and other professionals. He explained that the venture has enormous potential.

Venora Lanka provides power panels to mega projects in Sri Lanka and exports to Bangladesh, Maldives, Kenya, Ethiopia, Seychelles and Myanmar. Panel assembling is strictly in compliance with IEC 61439 standards, it was explained.

Gunawardena added: ‘I firmly believe that, being a truly customer focused organization, every employee and every process in the organization has to be aligned behind delighting customers. Therefore, at a time when the country is facing a major dollar crisis, my company would be aiming at bringing dollars into the country, while providing employment for local professionals, especially engineers.

‘At Venora Lanka we do not try to change customers’ mindsets. Instead, we take time to understand what they really want and focus our brand on delivering that. Venora is values- driven first and cost- driven second – creating a unique brand proposition.

‘Since the US dollar rate has come down, it is our concern that importers and suppliers do not change their prices, which is really affecting the manufacturing sector.

Company sources added: ‘The company has several wings of operation, such as local and overseas projects, switch board assembling, telecommunication infrastructure installations, earthing, lighting and surge protection, incorporating world renowned brands.

‘Venora Lanka Power Panels is the first Sri Lankan company to receive the licence, in accordance with the UK Trade Mark Act 1994, to use the trade mark “Best Enterprise”. It won a global award at the event, ‘Golden Awards for Quality and Business Prestige’, held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2015.

‘Within a short span of time, with the perfect blend of progressive thinking and expertise, Venora Group has expanded to consist of, Venora International Projects, Venora Telecom, Venora Industrial Solutions and Venora Lanka Power Panels (BOI approved). Further, Venora has established its overseas presence through Venora Engineering Kenya and Venora Engineering Myanmar.’

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Share market moves into positive territory; indices up



By Hiran H. Senewiratne

CSE trading got off to a positive note yesterday but during the last session of the day the momentum slowed. However, the market is now moving towards positive territory following the Central Bank announcement of a downward trend in interest rates, market analysts said.

Amid those developments the market witnesses improvements in both indices and in the turnover.

The All- Share Price Index up by 12.8 points and S and P SL 20 rose by 6.97 points. Turnover stood at Rs 710 million with one crossing. The crossing was reported in JKH which crossed 430,000 shares to the tune of Rs 60.2 million; its shares traded at Rs 140.

In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; JKH Rs 212 million (1.5 million shares traded), Access Engineering Rs 44.7 million ( three million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 34.5 million (264,000 shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 28.6 million (5.3 million shares traded), LOLC Finance Rs 23.8 million (4.7 million shares traded), Capital Alliance Rs 22.9 million (615,000 shares traded) and First Capital Holdings Rs 19.2 million (574,000 shares traded). During the day the 31.4 million shares volumes changed hands in 9000 transactions.

Yesterday, the Central Bank’s US dollar buying rate was Rs 285.16 and the selling rate Rs 298.85.

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