Social Welfare and Primary Industries Minister Daya Gamage has outlined extensive plans to improve primary industries to boost exports and employment.
The occasion was when the Ministry yesterday kicked off at Waters Edge in Battaramulla a Rs. 16 billion project titled the Agriculture Sector Modernization Project with a Rs. 9 billion loan from the World Bank to support 790 primary companies by signing the relevant agreements.
On the occasion, the minister handed over a report on artificial rain technology to prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the chief guest.
Minister Gayantha Karunatilake and deputy ministers Dr. Anoma Gamage and Muttu Sivalingam were among those present.
Speaking further, minister Gamage said, “We are committed to a new journey in agribusiness development. We are committed to making Sri Lanka an easy place to do business and present to the world the opportunities Sri Lanka has to offer. We wish to transform the industry so that it can compete globally. Earlier when I reached out to investors the constant response was we cannot invest because there is insufficient raw material to increase agri processing,” the Minister said.
The ministry plans to cultivate 10 million plants in mango, cinnamon, nutmeg and others. There is a long-term plan to grow 100 million plants, establish 200,000 beekeeping units, import 10,000 cattle to boost milk production and set up 20 factory production areas to improve food processing.
Investment in these programs is expected to top Rs. 70 billion in 2018, which is a growth of 39% from last year. But the Minister pointed out that policies need to change to accelerate this reform process.
“This latest project was designed to promote this task. It will promote market access, value addition, improve technology usage and increase linkages between the private sector and farmers. This project will also help Sri Lanka to create one million jobs and increase per capita income to $ 5,000 and help the country reach a $ 30 billion export goal by 2025, the Minister stressed.
“The goal is to do something of tangible experience for the people. I make an appeal to all public officials to work together to realise the goals of the project. The idea is to increase crops so that food processing factories would have ready access to raw materials to increase exports. We also have measures to promote the cinnamon industry and combat climate change.”
Text of the minister’s speech:
Hon. Ranili Wickramasinghe,the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Miss. Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, the Country Director of the World Bank, Mr. Andrew D.Goodland, the Program Leader of the World Bank,Eng. Bandula Wickramarachchi, Secretary to the Ministry of Primary Industries, representatives of the banking sector, invitees,
I am extremely happy to be here today at this agreement signing ceremony organized by the Agriculture Sector Modernization Project implemented by my Ministry. This is the beginning of a new journey of value chain development in the commercial agro business sector in Sri Lanka. At this important occasion, you all may permit to express my sincere gratitude to the Wold Bank for providing the necessary technical and financial support to put this project into operation on time in a very successful manner. Although they are not appearing here today, I would like to thank Dr.Ulrich Schmitt, the Task Team Leader of the World Bank and Dr.Josef Ernstbeger, the Agriculture Specialist of FAO for their tremendous effort for designing and assessing the performance of this project. I greatly valued their contribution.
Friends, we are committed to make Sri Lanka an easy place to do business. We want to present to the world the enormous opportunities that Sri Lanka offers as a base for manufacturing activities. The Ministry of Primary Industry has already to laid the foundation to fulfil this task transforming the primary industry sector that can sustain in a competitive market system in the World.
The country has now started to gain the benefits our attempt. The overall income from primary exports has increased to Rs.70 billion or US $ 454 million in 2017.This record a tremendous growth of 39 percent compared to US $ 326 million in 2016.
Friends, the shift towards commercial agricultural activities that has potential for further investment in better technology would support export earnings as well as enhance livelihood of people. In view of promoting this idea, my Ministry has implemented a programme to cultivate more than 10 million plants in the country in the category such as mango, pepper, cashew, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa, and arecanut.Programs are also in place for cultivation of 100 million plants for further strengthening of this activity. 200,000 bee keeping units will be established benefiting same amount of families.10, 000 cattle will be distributed to boost the milk industry.23 food processing zones will be set up, of which construction of 3 zones in Galle, Matale and Ampara will commence before August of this year.
In my opinion, the Government machinery requires to make a number of correction on the policy and program front to accelerate this growth momentum during the next 4 year period. The present project; the Agriculture Sector Modernization Project was designed to realize these tasks.
Accordingly, the project will promote coordination of farmer societies, develop market accessibility, enhance value addition of products, improve usage of modern technology, and promote linkages among the private sector business partners in the process of value chain. Under the project, by 2021 we will invest Rs.20.3 billion to establish more than 2000 industrial units in the country and thereby we will put the primary industry sector into a high growth trajectory. In consequence, it is envisaged that this project will immensely contributed to achieve the Government vision of raising the per capita income to US $ 5000 per annum, creating 1 million jobs realizing the vision of the Hon Priminister and doubling the total export up to US $ 30 billion per annum by 2025.
While thanking again to the World Bank for their fullest cooperation, my best wishes to all of you who sign the business agreements today here in Colombo.
Thank you very much