By Hiran H.Senewiratne
The world’s largest Palmyra spirit factory will be opened at the end of the year in the Tikkam area in the Jaffna District.
“A local distilleries company will be investing Rs. 450 million in a joint venture with the Palmyrah Development Board to create this historic project, chairman, Palmyrah Development Board, Krishantha Pathiraja said.
Pathiraja said that the MoU in this regard has been already signed as a joint venture company for a 5- year contract period and its progress would be reviewed each year during that 5 year period.
“We then called for tenders to re-start this and a local distiller was selected after proper tender procedure to re-launch this operation. The company will invest Rs. 450 million to install modern machinery and re-start production, Pathiraja said.
Pathiraja added: ‘When completed, it will be the biggest Palmyrah factory in the world. They will also purchase some local spirits, paying around Rs. 2 million to tappers.The new company, while producing spirits, will also export some of the products globally, starting with Canada, bringing in foreign exchange. The new factory will manufacture ethanol as well.The project will also provide 200 direct and over 300 indirect employment opportunities, especially for northerners.
The Palmyrah farmers who get around Rs. 45 per liter for Palmyrah sap will now get Rs.305 more for their produce and the new company hopes to purchase around 30, 000 liters per day.The Palmyrah Development Board would get an annual ‘royalty’ in excess of Rs. 120 million and this would initially be used towards settling loans and EPF money due to former employees.
‘The Tikkam distillery was established in 1986 and was shut down after around three years. Later it was restarted by the LTTE but this too functioned for only three years. The primary cooperative society and the Palmyrah Development Board then made an attempt to revive it but that attempt too failed to materialize as it was at the height of the war in the North and East. I thank Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana and state ministers Arundika Fernando and Lohan Ratwatte for their support in this project.’
Tea industry targets USD 1.2 bn export turnover in 2023
Sri Lanka will earn around USD 1.2 billion from tea exports for 2023 exporting around 260 million Kg, said Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, (SLTB) Niraj de Mel, last week.
SLTB is forecasting a modest growth for 2023 in comparison to the current year estimating an increased production of 290 million Kgs with export revenues expected to increase to USD 1.4 billion. Due to the depreciation of the rupee against the dollar, during the first half of the year and a shortage of tea, sales caught up and auction prices increased sharply from March 2022. Despite fuel shortages and logistic issues, the Regional Plantation Companies and smallholders have been able to continue the harvesting of green leaf throughout the year. When compared to 2020 and 2021 volumes, the Green Leaf price to smallholders has increased exponentially from July 2022 onwards.
“The tea smallholder who used to get around Rs. 90 per kg three years ago is now getting around Rs. 250 per kg and some estates have paid nearly Rs. 1,000 per kg. He said that though the glyphosate fertiliser ban is lifted planters should not use it heavily as a ‘global ban of glyphosate’ is imminent for the tea industry. Some countries like Taiwan already reject tea grown with the use of glyphosate.” He recalled that tea production reached an all time high with a record of 340 million Kgs in 2013. “After short increases during the period 2017 to 2019, tea production recorded a decrease in 2020, mainly due to the fallout from the pandemic and now we are taking several steps to increase production.”
The Tea board is offering a host of financial grants and loans to the tea growers, factories as well as for exporters. “These include subsidies for replanting, fertiliser for growers, special grants and loans for factories to upgrade their machinery and soft loans for exporters for packaging. These facilities exceed Rs. 4 billion per year.”
Tea Commissioner E. Edirisinghe said that they would also provide Rs. I million for tea factory expansion which comes as a grant. “In addition, we pay 3% of the capital when factories install solar,” he said.
Harin urges for ‘breathing space’ to revive tourism
Minister of Tourism and Lands Harin Fernando said on Saturday that persistent political agitations make his job of promoting Sri Lanka as a safe and convenient tourist destination extremely difficult.
“Now the country has restarted to function although not at a comfortable level to everyone. People undergo many economic difficulties due to high cost of living. These issues need to be addressed and resolved one by one. Creating troubles constantly in a highly political way won’t help the country to come out of the crisis. It will only prolong the crisis.
As Minister of Tourism, I have a hard time promoting tourism in Sri Lanka because it is no easy task to convince potential overseas visitors that the situation is back to normal. So, I appeal to these parties to allow at least six months for the country resuscitate whose breathing had stopped for some time,” he said.
UTECH Technologies recognised at Sahasak Nimavum Innovation Awards
UTECH Technologies (Pvt) Limited, Sri Lanka’s leading Industry 4.0 transformation solutions provider won the most prestigious innovation award, the DASIS award at the Sahasak Nimavum National Innovation Awards held recently. The DASIS Award is judged across all competing categories and only awarded to the innovation that shows novelty in technology and has been commercialized successfully. This award is judged by a learned panel of national and international judges including academia and industry experts. UTECH also won overall gold for best commercialized ICT innovation. UTECH has won many national and international awards, including the overall gold for “IoT technology of the year” at the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) in 2021.
UTECH’s Managing Director, Riyad Ismail said, “Having many Sri Lankan industrial conglomerates as our clients, we have started exporting our hardware and software solutions to world markets.”
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