Social Welfare and Primary Industries minister Daya Gamage says that for the first time, a policy framework has been prepared for the primary industry sector with technical support given by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
He says he will submit this policy document to the cabinet for approval.
“Then we will have a national policy on the sector to be used by policy makers, planners and donor agencies,” he said at the launch today of a workshop on cattle farming, organized jointly by the primary industries ministries of Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
Present at the event at the auditorium of primary industries ministry at Suhurupaya in Battaramulla were deputy minister Muttu Sivalingam, ministry secretary Bandula Wickramarachchi, Shiromani Jayasekara, principal advisor to the primary industries ministry of New Zealand and Dr. Neil Kenninghe, agricultural counselor of the New Zealand high commission in New Delhi.
Text of the minister’s speech:
Good morning everyone,
Hon. Mutthu Sivalingam, Deputy Minister of Primary Industries, Eng. Bandula Wickramarachchi, Secretary to the Ministry of Primary Industries, the Delegation from the Ministry of Primary Industries of the New Zealand Government, Academics, Officials from the Government and Private Sector Agencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am delighted to be with you this morning at the opening of this very important workshop. At the inception, I wish to mention that since 2015, the New Zealand Government has been helping the Government of Sri Lanak to carry out a number of development programs with a successful manner. You all may permit to express my sincere gratitude to the New Zealand Government for its friendly generosity towards the Sri Lankan government and people.
As you are already aware, the composition of agricultural exports in Sri Lanka has significantly changed over the last decade. Accordingly, the primary industry sector has become a very important segment in the national economy. At present, this sector consists of about 25 percent of the total manufacturing units and 15 percent of the total work force in the country. The export earnings from this sector have averaged around Rs.48 billion per annum for the period from 2012 to 2015.
In 2015, the Ministry of Primary Industry was established to give more priority on the primary industries to achieve a broad based improvement in the export earnings. During last two years, we have implemented a number of productive programmes to realize the Government objective. As a result, the export income from primary exports has increased to Rs.70 billion or US $ 454 million in 2017.This records a tremendous growth of 39 percent compared to US $ 326 million in 2016.
Ladies and Gentlemen, during the last two years we have laid the foundation to transform the primary industry sector enhancing its efficiency and dynamism that can sustain in a competitive market system in future. We have already cultivated more than 10 million plants in the country in the category such as mango, pepper, cashew, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa, and arecanut. Programs are 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.
However, I have to say that the Sri Lankan manufacturers are still working with various difficulties. In my opinion, the high cost of production, outdated technology, low volume of production and product quality and insufficient financing facilities are some of them to be mentioned. In order to overcome these problems, we are implementing a comprehensive project for the modernization of the agriculture sector with the assistance of the World Bank. Under the project, during next 3 years, we will invest Rs.20.3 billion to start and improve 1820 industrial units in the country with the view of promoting primary exports. Of this target, 52 units will start their business in this month costing Rs.2.9 billion.
For the first time, we have prepared a policy framework for the primary industry sector with the technical support given by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).I will submitted this policy document to the cabinet for approval. Then we will have a national policy on the sector to be used by policy makers, planners and donor agencies.
Based on the current progress, I strongly believe, that we are on correct track to achieve the target of US $ 1.5 billion from the export of primary products well ahead of 2025. Therefore, I request the international agencies to give their fullest cooperation to my Ministry for implementation of our programs in an efficient and effective manner.
While thanking again to the New Zealand Government, I wish a very productive workshop.
Thank you very much