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Planters come forward to help double coconut production to 6 billion nuts per year

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With the soaring price of coconuts, the focus is now on doubling production from three billion to six billion per year.

A master plan in this regard has been developed by a world-renowned management consultancy company, which has branch offices in 140 countries, together with a team of 30 experts from different professional disciplines on the initiative of the government.

A Chartered Human Resources professional cum planter leading the team says the key attraction of the project is the per capita earning potential of smallholders. An average unit of cultivation is around five acres or two hectares.

The project will undertake the development of 50,000 hectares under the first phase with the aim of adding 750 million nuts to existing production. There are few different models for the farmer to select but all models have considered profit per hectare per annum through inter-cropping, bee keeping and fertigation using Israeli technology.

High-tech agricultural concepts have been used to increase farmer efficiency and to attract millennials to agriculture. The project is expected to go green with the support of renewable energy.

Considering the importance of accurate monitoring, the team is considering the use of satellite and drone technologies. A ‘one stop’ mobile app is to be developed so that all services required by the farmers or any of the stakeholders can be accessed without hassle.

The project is looking at developing a total extent of around 187,000 hectares ideally suitable for producing a minimum of 100 nuts per palm each year. Neglected paddy lands of about 50,000 hectares and another 87,000 hectares from the beach-front of the north are also earmarked for inclusion under the final phase of the project.

The entire production will be sent to five state-of-the-art (industry 4.0) coconut factories to add value for export to earn valuable foreign exchange for the country. The products will use Sri Lankan quality assurance mechanisms under the ‘made in Sri Lanka’ brand theme.

The PPP model used will give endless opportunities to those eager to invest in the project and all employees of the Plantations Ministry, CRI, CCB and CDA could become partners of progress of this nation-building initiative.

However, the bottleneck is in the production of quality coconut palms as the project may need about 40 million plants and lands between Sabaragamuwa and Jaffna, the planter says.

The Coconut Growers’ Association is keen to begin discussions on the proposed project early. Planters are motivated by the action-oriented leadership of the President and all state officials are offering unconditional support to get off the grounds this gigantic intervention.

The planter further said that all human resources professionals produced by CIPM await an invitation by the President and the government to get involved in nation-building opportunities. Unfortunately, not considering HRM aspects remain a major cause for drawbacks in the success of projects in Sri Lanka. This must be corrected from Parliament downwards as Right People Drive Business.

 

– Lalin I. De Silva,

Former Senior Planter and

Agricultural Adviser.

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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