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How open economy and bureaucracy ruined RSS rubber production

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By Dhamsiri Dasanayake

Ex-Advisory Officer

Rubber Research Board

RSS (Ribbed Smoked Sheets) rubbers are the prime raw material particularly processed by smallholders from latex extracted from rubber trees by tapping under certain methodological recommendations specified by the Rubber Research Institute (RRI). People who are engaged in tapping trees on occupational basis are called tappers who are also technicians though it is not a white collar job. Their skillfulness in this extraction process is indicated by thickness of bark shavings. The tapper removes bark shavings at regular interval leaving one mille meter layer of the bark to outer side of the cambium layer (Diya Pattaya). Conversion of this latex into RSS is also a skilled technical job through a processing activity which needs chemicals, rubber rollers and a smoke house, etc. In general, in Sri Lanka 70% of rubber lands are smallholders and 30% estate owners. Smallholders’ RSS sales were linked to a grading system such as RSS No1 to RSS No. 5. Out of these grades RSS No1 gets the highest price while RSS No5 the lowest. The subsidies for rubber cultivation were given by the government, paid through the administrators of the Rubber Development Department (RDD) for motivating the rubber smallholders. This article intends to discuss RSS manufacturing and marketing during the past decades. RSS rubbers are one of the industrial inputs in the raw material industry of rubber and a foreign exchange earner.

In 1970, the Rubber Research Institute (RRI) set up a Small Holdings Department, which trained small holders on various processes involved in planting and RSS processing through Rubber Instructors of the RRI. The RRI provided plans of smoke houses with some financial assistance to construct Demonstration Smoke Houses for processing RSS rubbers. This was the foremost extension activity of the Rubber Instructors among their other services.

For selling the processed RSS rubbers of smallholders, the government had set in a scheme with China under mutual agreement to export our RSS rubbers for their industrial development and to import their rice for our nations’ consumption in accordance with the “rubber- rice” pact. As a continuation link of this chain, the government instituted the Commodity Purchase Dept (CPD) to purchase smallholders’ RSS rubbers. For this purpose, the government opened purchasing outlets all over the rubber growing areas and appointed well-trained managers to purchase smallholder RSS rubbers. If smallholders manufactured quality RSS (No01) they could have received a higher price and through which farmers were motivated to manufacture quality RSS.

When Sirimavo Bandaranaike came into power, Dr Colvin R. de Silva as the Minister of Plantation Industries, proposed to build large smoke houses called Group Processing Centres (GPCs) to process RSS in a group approach in high density areas of rubber. That led to the creation of smallholders’ cooperative societies to empower them to produce better quality RSS rubber and to get their other requirements related to rubber fulfilled. Well-organised managerial and financial systems were introduced to these societies with advancing systems to needy subsistence level smallholders by the Economic Research Division of the Advisory Services Department (ASD) while making frequent monitoring.

Under a project called Smallholder Rubber Rehabilitation Project (SRRP) implemented in 1988, a Processing Division was established under Advisory Services Department (ASD) by appointing Divisional Processing Advisers, Regional Processing Advisers and Head Processing Division at National level to coach on RSS manufacturers. As a result of this productive approach, nearly 100 Group Processing Centres (GPC), were established in several districts of the country. It led to the escalation of the processing of RSS in a sound manner to upgrade the rubber economy.

President J. R. Jayewardene came into power in 1977 allowed others to participate in rubber purchasing, which the Commodity Purchase Department (CPD) had been performing. Eventually, it led to the closure of the CPD and all the staff were given the choice between retirement or transfer to other branches of the Department. Having closed down the CPD, the then government introduced a Licensed Dealer system as an alternative to rubber dealing system of the government. The RCD issued licences to businessmen who wished to take part in this process as rubber dealers. As a result of this new arrangement, the grading system existed as RSS1, 2, 3, 4, 5, were eliminated while introducing the bulk purchasing system. This exposed smallholders to exploitation by rubber crafty rubber dealers.

The ASD having been attached to RCD in 1994, the Processing Division was eliminated from the RDD. This led to abolition of the the RSS processing system and gradually smallholders took into cultivation of other crops such as tea, coconut, vegetables, etc. and by eliminating smallholders and tappers from rubber cultivation. This affected the rubber industry to a great extent. In 2002, the Minister of Plantation Industries merged all the Group Processing Centers (GPCs) and created an institution called Thurusaviya.

About 41,523 MT of RSS rubbers were produced and 43,727 MT of RSS rubbers imported in 2017, as indicated in Table 1. According to these figures, in 2017, Sri Lanka imported 2,204 MT of RSS more. This indicates that there was a demand for rubber which could be produced here by proper constructive planning through the extension staff. Table 2 shows the declining trend in replanting and new planting which need to be carried out through the guidance of the extension staff by properly planned constructive mechanism.

All in all, unmistakably, the decisions taken by the authorities since 1977 and the abolition of the Processing Division by Rubber Development Department (RDD) after the attachment of ASD to RCD in 1994 have adversely impacted on the processing of RSS rubbers. This processing was carried out mostly in Group Processing Centres (GPCs) from the past. Under these circumstances for boosting up the RSS rubber processing in the future, Thurusaviya (GPCs) should be attached to the present Advisory Services Department (present ASD) of the RRI for increasing the quantity of RSS rubber production. RSS Rubbers have had a strong link with 70% of the rubber smallholders from the past. It is very special that The RRI was the cradle of the Group Processing Centres. Hence the authorities should implement the said amalgamation to developing the RSS processing to boost rubber imports and, thereby, earn more foreign exchange.



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Features

To recognise and reward Women Entrepreneur

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by Zanita Careem

WCIC “Prathibhabis-heka” national awards will be given to outstanding women entrepreneurs of Sri Lanka and the SAARC said Anoji de Silva, the chairperson of Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce WCIC at a press conference held at the Jetwing hotel Ward PlaceThis year the Women Entrepreneur Awards 2022 is powered by DFCS Aloka.This National Award which is recognised globally will help women to market their products to international buyers

“As a country we have faced many difficulties over the last few years. Now this is the time to reflect and ensure that local women can contribute and progress to be on par with international entrepreneurs She also noted that this award ceremony is a great opportunity for all since it’s an absolutely empowering platform. “You hear success stories of women from different walks of life and it’s very empowering and inspiring. I’m sure that the younger generation of women who will watch the ceremony wii be inspired to be sucessful entrepreneurs in the future S

“Our women entrepreneurs have the potential to help our economy to grow. They have made vast strides to build companies on a set of values and they have created diverse working environments.

The WCIC Prathibhabisheka Women Entrepreneur Awards will be held in January 22. To the question how financial records of small businesses headed by women could deter their ability to apply the chairperson said.

“We have a startup category which is under five years where they can submit documents for consideration. She responded “These women can apply but must submit proper records to back their applications or else they will be rejected wholeheartedly.The Women Entrepreneur Awards 2022

“Prathibha” depicts excellence in Sanskrit and WCIC will showcase the excellence of outstanding women entrepreneurs through WCIC Prathibhabisheka –

“The relaunched property is structured to assess the businesses in a holistic manner. We invite outstanding women entrepreneurs, especially the ones who have braved the challenges in the past years to share their story of resilience and achievements to compete for the coveted – WCIC Prathibhabisheka The Awards will honour women entrepreneurs for their tenacity to scale and grow, and for their contribution and impact on the economy. Whilst the competition is primarily for Sri Lankan Entrepreneurs, we have also included an opportunity for women in the SAARC region to compete in a special category” stated Anoji De Silva, the Chairperson of the WCIC.

The members of WCIC Ramani Ponnambalam and Tusitha Kumarakul-asingam, said”. We will be accepting applications under the categories – Start-up, Micro, Small, Medium and Large. Each category will have a specified revenue for the year under review – 2021/22. Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards will be presented for each category. With the view to identify and promote regional women entrepreneurs, we will encourage applications from all the provinces in the country and select the “Best of the Region” from each province.

The women will also be considered for the coveted special awards – Young Woman Entrepreneur, Outstanding Start- up, Most Positively Abled Woman Entrepreneur, The Most Outstanding Export Oriented Entrepreneur, The Best of the SAARC Region. The ceremony will culminate with the selection of the “Women Entrepreneur of the year -2022”.

“The entry kit can be downloaded from www.wcicsl.lk and completed and submitted to the WCIC along with all the material required to substantiate the applicant’s story. Entries close on the 31st of October.” stated Tusitha Kumarak-ulasingam.

WCIC Prathibabisheka – Woman Entrepreneur Awards 2022 is powered by– DFCC Aloka, as the Platinum Sponsor, with Gold Sponsors – Mclarens Group, LOLL Holdings Plc, Hayleys Leisure Pic, and AIA Insurance Lanka Ltd (Exclusive Insurance Partner), Silver – Finez Capital Ventures Print and Social Media Partners will be the Wijeya Group and Electronic Media Partner–ABC Network with Triad as our Creative Partner and Ernst & Young as Knowledge Partner.

Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC) is the premier organization supporting entrepreneurs and professional business-women. The membership is open to women who believe they can contribute to society as well as benefit from the many facilities the organization creates. WCIC Prathibhasheka is relaunched this year as a flagship property, to recognize and reward outstanding women enterpreneurs who make a contribution to the SL economy.

For further information Contact- Janitha Stephens – 0766848080

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Marmalade sandwich in Queen’s handbag!

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In this period of national mourning, it may seem frivolous to comment on the late Queen’s handbag. After seven decades of selfless service to the nation, fashion is but a footnote to Her Majesty’s glorious reign.And yet her style is something that helped to create the powerful majestic image of Queen Elizabeth II, and which made her instantly recognisable worldwide. A key part of that image, and a constant presence in her working life, was her black Launer handbag.

Launer London was Her Majesty’s handbag maker for more than 50 years and has held the Royal Warrant since 1968. Launer bags are formal and structured, and proved to be the ideal regal accessory for public engagements. Its first royal patronage came from HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in the 1950s. Where others might have bought the latest ‘It’ bag, Queen Elizabeth exercised characteristic restraint with her handbags throughout her life, focusing on quality over quantity in her loyalty to Launer.

Her Majesty was known for her love of colour in her working wardrobe, wearing rainbow brights in order to be better seen by the public, but her accessories were always muted. Black mostly, sometimes beige or white in summer, gold or silver in the evening: neutrals that matched with every colour, allowing her to dress with ease. The timeless style of her trusty Traviata top-handle bag suited the Queen’s no-nonsense nature and symbolised her steadfast reign. The late Baroness Thatcher shared the Queen’s love of a strong top handle from classic British labels such as Launer and Asprey. These bags helped promote a look of someone in control. Like Queen Elizabeth, Thatcher’s handbags were such a part of her identity that they have earned their own special place in history and have been described as the former PM’s ‘secret weapon’. One such bag has been exhibited at the V&A alongside Sir Winston Churchill’s red despatch box. Both are artefacts of cultural and historic importance.

It has been said that there was another purpose to the Queen’s handbag on public engagements, namely that she used it as a secret signalling device. According to royal historian Hugo Vickers, Her Majesty would switch the bag from her left arm to her right to signal for an aide to come to her rescue if she tired of the conversation in which she was engaged. If she placed the bag on the table, this was a sign that she wanted to leave. Ever-practical, HM needed a bag that focused on functionality over fashion, choosing styles with slightly longer top handles that comfortably looped over the monarch’s arm, freeing her hands to accept bouquets and greet the public. Even in her final photograph, meeting her 15th prime minister in her sitting room at Balmoral Castle, just two days before her death last week, the Queen’s handbag can be seen on her left arm. Perhaps at this stage it was part armour, part comfort blanket.Even at the age of 96, Queen Elizabeth II did not lose her ability to surprise. She delighted the public by taking tea with Paddington Bear at her Platinum Jubilee celebrations and finally revealed what she keeps in her handbag: a marmalade sandwich, ‘for later’.

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Cinnamon Grand, Colombo welcomes You to the SEQUEL

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The next best thing in Colombo!

What would you get if you took the decadence of yesterday and paired it with the flavours of right now? Something bold and jazzy or rich and snazzy. Something we’d like to call the next best thing. All this and more at Cinnamon City Hotels to the SEQUEL at Cinnamon Grand, Colombo said a press release.

The release said the SEQUEL is where the old meets new, where charm meets sophistication and having a good time gets a new meaning. Colombo’s latest speakeasy cocktail bar is ready to welcome the discerning guest that is looking for that perfectly curated night.

“The SEQUEL will be a novel addition to Colombo’s nightlife catered to enthralling guests with our performances and showmanship,” said Kamal Munasinghe, Area Vice-President, Cinnamon City Hotels.

What do we mean when we say performance? It means that every little detail is tailored to those who appreciate elegance, and a bespoke experience like no other. Think walking into a vintage space accompanied by the sounds of Sinatra and Fitzgerald inviting you to do it your way or for once in your life. Think of the soul-searching and eclectic mix of Winehouse classics that you can drown your sorrows in.

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