The type of rubber clones cultivated determines to a great extent the productivity of the rubber sector. High yielding clones such as RRIC100, RRIC121, RRIC102 etc. are recommended by Rubber Research Institute (RRI) for planting to increase the productivity. According to published data by the RRI, the average yields of clones cultivated in Sri Lanka are indicated below.
According to Dr. L.M.K Tilakaratna, former Director of RRI writing to THE ISLAND of 26th Oct. on “Rubber industry in Sri Lanka” a policy decision was taken by the Ministry of Plantation Industries (MPI) in 1995 to eliminate the low – yielding clone PB 86 from rubber plantations and bud wood nurseries which was controlled by the Rubber Development Department ( RDD ).
According to an RDD survey in the year 2010, 43.1% (Table1) of rubber clones cultivated in Sri Lanka were PB 86. Another survey carried out by the RRI countrywide in 2012, revealed that 29% of existing clones were PB 86 cultivated in rubber plantations. However, this factor signifies that RPCs, RDD and private sector nursery owners have not strictly adhered to the basket of specific clones advocated by the RRI. This also indicates that neither the RPCC nor the RDD has followed the ruling given by the Ministry of Plantation Industries (MPI) to eliminate this low yielder from rubber plantations. As the RDD is involved in monitoring production of quality planting material for the smallholders, it is difficult to understand why this organization has issued a banned clone PB 86 to the field in the past years. It implies that RDD has not properly monitored the clones available in their nurseries and as well as in the private commercial nurseries.
Both RDD and private commercial nurseries are primarily responsible for the issue of plants to the smallholders and they are duty bound to issue plants in keeping with the RRI recommendations. For recommending the authentic planting material, rubber nurseries are regularly inspected by authoritative officers of the Rubber Research Institute (RRI) with the relevant officers of the RDD. Having inspected these private nurseries by the RRI and RDD officers, they quantitatively allocate plants to be issued from these RDD and private commercial nurseries. Beyond this allocation, private nurseries are not authorised to issue plants. It is abundantly clear that this requirement has not been complied with. It implies that RDD has not properly monitored the clones in their nurseries and especially in private commercial nurseries. RDD appear to have not followed recommendations of RRI, perhaps due to their incompatible co-ordination between these two Institutions. It needs to be pointed out that one is a scientific agricultural organization (RRI) and the other one (RDD) is a bureaucratic administrative organisation. This may be one of the major drawbacks in improving and managing the rubber sector.
As per Statistical Data of the Ministry of Plantation Industries (MPI), out of the 130,349 ha under rubber, 89,246 ha are in the small holder (SH) rubber sector and 41,103 ha are in the estate sector. Thus SH play an important role in the rubber sector of Sri Lanka. According to an article by Dr. C.S. Weeraratna (ISLAND – 29th Oct.), former Director of the Advisory Services Department of the Rubber Research Board, the productivity (kg/ha) of the rubber sector has decreased substantially, which may be attributed to planting low-yielding clones such as PB 86 (43.1)% in addition to other institutional factors and poor management practices of extension.
The MPI’s publication titled “Statistical information on plantation crops” is very useful in that it provides valuable data on the plantations sector which are used specially in national budget preparation and other policy making activities related to the development programs of the country. However, in this MPI publication of 2017, the clonal composition (Table 1) of smallholding sector and rubber extent related to RDD data of 2010 survey is stale not of much use for current development planning. The clonal composition of 2010 data has been given in the MPI statistical information book of 2015 and again the same has been published by the MPI in 2017. What is the purpose of publishing outdated data twice in this manner? This may be because MPI is not paying much attention to the data preparation and is not interested in updating relevant rubber statistics to fulfil the current requirement of the stake holders in rubber/plantation sector.
Also, Table 1 shows that 5.1% of non-budded clonal rubber have been planted in smallholdings. However, this clone was also removed from the recommended clone list of the RRI before 1955, due to its unpredictable agronomical characteristics compared to other clones of budded rubber.
In view of the importance of rubber as an export crop, it is necessary that the authorities, mainly the MPI should take appropriate action to improve this sector or a divine intervention is needed to save rubber industry as highlighted in the article titled “A divine intervention needed to save rubber industry” by J. A. A. S. Ranasinghe Productivity Specialist/Management Consultant in The Island of 2 Nov. 2020. According to him, maintaining a proper clone balance in rubber plantations is extremely important. In this regard RDD (bureaucratic administrative organization) officers and RRI (scientific agricultural organization) officers should be actively involved and properly supervised by the authorities. This is the challenge.
Ex -Advisory Officer, Rubber
Amend Cabinet decision on new Rajagiriya – Nawala Canal bridge
The Cabinet, at its meeting held on 09.11.2020 granted approval for the construction of a new bridge across the Rajagiriya-Nawala Canal (Kolonnawa Canal), connecting Angampitiya Road, at Ethul kotte, and School Lane, at Nawala.
As a resident of Nawala, I would like to make two proposals in this regard. One is to reconsider the suitability of the proposed link between School Lane and Angampitiya Road to connect Nawala with Ethul Kotte. The second is to make an additional link between Narahenpita and Nawala, by constructing a new bridge across the Kinda Canal, which flows past the Wall-Tile Showroom on the Nawala-Narahenpita Road and the McDonald’s outlet at Rajagiriya. This will provide a direct access from Narahenpita to Ethul Kotte, and at the same time avoiding congestion on Kirimandala Mawatha and Parliament Road, during peak hours.
The decision to construct a bridge, linking Nawala and Ethul Kotte, is commendable, but the selection of the site for the bridge needs reconsideration. Once Ethul Kotte is linked with Nawala, through Angampitiya Road, and School Lane, one would expect a substantial increase in the volume of traffic on these two roads. Located on School Lane is the Janadhipathi Balika Vidyalaya, a popular girls’ school in the area. Even at present, the area around School Lane has heavy traffic comprising mostly school vans and other vehicles bringing children to and from this school, in the mornings and afternoons. Linking School Lane with Ethul Kotte will make this traffic situation worse, causing congestion.
A better option is to connect Ethul Kotte with Nawala, by constructing a bridge, linking New Jayaweera Mawatha in Ethul Kotte, with Koswatta Road, in Nawala. A by-lane, branching off from the Koswatta Road leading up to the canal, at an appropriate location, could be used for this purpose. On this link, only a short distance of roadway about 250 m, needs to be developed, whereas the School Lane extension needs development of at least 700 m of roadway. Earlier, motorists used Koswatta Road as a shortcut to access Parliament Road. Now, turning right, at the Parliament Road junction, is not permitted, and hence, there isn’t much traffic on this road at present.
One advantage of extending the Koswatta Road, to Ethul Kotte is that it could be linked in the other direction, with Muhandiram Dabare Mawatha, on the Narahenpita side, providing a direct route for motorists coming along Thimbirigasyaya Road to go to Ethul Kotte. With this link, it will be possible for traffic to avoid both Parliament Road and Chandra de Silva Mawatha, Nugegoda, the only two access roads to Kotte, from Colombo, available at present.
To complete this access, it is necessary to construct a bridge across Kinda Canal, linking Galpotta Road with Muhandiram Dabare Mawatha, after extending both roadways up to the canal. This area is still not developed, except for a reservation made for a playground on the Nawala side. A new roadway, which is only about half a km distance, is necessary, and this could be built without any problem linking these two roadways. Galpotta Road could be linked with Koswatta Road via Ratanajothi Mawatha, which crosses the Rajagiriya–Nawala Road, at Koswatta Junction.
The construction of these two new bridges, one across Kolonnawa Canal and the other across Kinda Canal, will provide a direct route from Colombo to Ethul Kotte, via Muhandiram Dabare Mawatha, Galpotta Road, Koswatta Road and New Jayaweera Mawatha. This link will reduce congestion, at present experienced on Kirimandala Road and Parliament Road.
Dr JANAKA RATNASIRI
A tribute to my mother-in-law
My mother-in-law, Mandrani Gunasekera, nee Malwatta, passed away peacefully in our home a few weeks ago. The funeral arrangements were complicated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic situation, and the resultant weekend curfew in Colombo.
It is a privilege for me to reflect on my mother-in-law and her role in our lives. Vocationally, she was a practitioner of one of the noblest professions on earth, that of being a teacher, with the responsibility of educating and molding young lives. First in the public-school system, then overseas, and finally in Colombo’s leading international schools. As someone who topped her batch at the Peradeniya University, teaching was an unusual and perhaps unglamourous choice, but it demonstrated her commitment to the service of others.
In private life, she, was a mother to two daughters, one of whom is my wife, and their strength of character are a tribute to her. Her four grandchildren, including my two sons, are, I am sure, left in no doubt, that their mothers were raised in the home of a teacher, with a strong commitment to both education and discipline. I saw first-hand, that my mum-in- law, was an enabler and facilitator, guiding and molding her family. Her eldest grand-daughter, Thisuni Welihinde’s wedding late last year, was a milestone for her and we were never sure who was more excited, the bride or her grandmother.
To me, she was always “Ammi” and having lost my own mother when I was very young, I was determined to treat my wife’s mother, as I would my own. After my father- in- law’s death, a decade ago, it was a joy to care for my mother-in- law, in our home. Ammi was retired and lived a life of leisure. Which was a good counter balance to our own lives, which always seemed to be so hectic and rushed. I also learned from my mother -in-law, that being effective did not come from being prominent.
Ammi was also regular at Church, every Sunday, and was also an active member of a mid-week ladies Bible study, and prayer group, who were also her group of friends. They always ended their meetings, with brunch if not lunch. It was special joy that we were able to celebrate her 80th birthday with a “surprise party” at home, with her friends, about six weeks before her passing.
Ammi enjoyed the simple joys of life, and of our home, whether it was meal times, the constant chatter and boisterous behaviour of her two teenage grandsons, our weekend activities or family vacations to most of which she accompanied us. She was also an avid rugby fan, especially of Royal College rugby, since her brother had captained Royal and now her grandson was playing. In fact, she used to attend many matches and the 75th Bradby encounter last year, held in the shadow of the Easter Sunday bomb attacks, was her last, to witness her brother honoured on the field with other past captains and her grandson take the field, as a junior player.
This strange Covid-19 pandemic year, and its unprecedented lockdown ,enabled us to spend lots of time together, as family. Our lockdown daily routine, which included lots of sleep and rest, was centered on the daily family lunch, either preceded, or followed by family prayer. Ammi became the most committed and enthusiastic participant in our family mid-day gatherings. It was a great blessing, in disguise, that enabled us to spend the last few months, with noting much else to do, but enjoy each other’s company. While we miss her, we have the hope that she is with our Lord Jesus Christ. Her favourite Bible scripture in Psalm 91, states “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High abides under the shadow of the Almighty …. and with long life I will satisfy him and show him, My salvation”.
By Harim Peiris
The Benefits of Homeschooling
COVID-19 has changed our normal activities. What we were used to doing in 2019, is no longer a routine in 2020. In the midst of this pandemic the schools were closed down, and the decision to reopen schools by the Sri Lankan government and the trade unions speaking against it, made me ponder on an alternative.
Education in developing countries have often been a sensitive topic, Parents would leave no stone unturned to put their child to a ‘Big School’. How many of the classrooms in ‘Big Schools’ are capable of making seating arrangements by keeping a distance of one meter in accordance with the COVID-19 regulations?
Online Teaching has been introduced as an alternative, but isn’t there something better than that?
This would be the best time to introduce Homeschooling.
Homeschooling is where parents and guardians teach and groom their children. There are many parents capable of handling children and providing a comfortable atmosphere at home for a child to grow up and learn; there are parents who are skilled in particular trades and crafts, and teaching these to their children at a younger age gives the child an opportunity to be a skilled individual.
Several decades back the role of a Governess played an important role in upbringing children in Sri Lankan households. Many would have read about Helen Keller, a deaf and blind student who went on to be a graduate; she was groomed and taught by her governess Anne Sullivan, who taught her at home, this is a successful example of Homeschooling.
It is an arrogant attitude to scoff that parents groom their children into good citizens without sending them to school. Inferior Schooling and Teaching Methods have been a bane to a child’s psychology and mentally handicapping the confidence of a child. The truth is, schools no longer groom students, they have become Examination Centres, that judge the performance of their students through results.
It will be interesting to look into some of the criticisms made by sceptics on homeschooling. One is the subject knowledge of the parents; let’s be honest, how many of us use Titration in Chemistry in our daily lives, do we even want to try it? How many of us want to know the Chronology of the Kings that ruled the Country, has it ever disturbed us?
On the other hand, Homeschooling does not mean that teachers would no longer be needed, the teacher can play a broader role as a governess or a trainer to fill in the subject gaps that the parents are unable to provide for their child.
Another criticism is that children will not learn to socialise without schools. Isn’t Covid-19 regulations discouraging socialising by asking us to avoid public gatherings and maintaining a distance of 1 meter, isn’t socialising with a bad friend as disastrous as a deadly disease?
It will be interesting to see how the trade unions are going to respond to this if homeschooling becomes successful, as they will be the worst affected. But they could always become good Governesses or Subject Experts and play a guiding role in the homeschooling venture. This country now needs more Florence Nightingales to treat the sick and more Anne Sullivans to groom the kids.
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