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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 109

ADB Country Director stresses on constraints on Rural and Agriculture development in Sri Lanka

By Quintus Perera - Asian Tribune

Colombo, 08 April, ( Addressing the Key Persons Forum jointly organized by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Sri Lanka and Small and Medium Enterprises Developers, Richard Vokes, Sri Lanka Country Director, Asian Development Bank, said that despite the good performances in the economy of the country and though agriculture has also performed well, there are quite a number of adverse conditions that curtails the rural and agricultural development of Sri Lanka .

He spoke on the topic “Rural Development, ADB and the Role of the Private Sector. And the event was held at the Galle Face Hotel last week.

He said that reviving the agriculture is clearly critical. There are ambitious goals in the 10 Year Plan to be achieved by transformation and commercialization of the plantations and non-plantations sectors of agriculture... To improve these sectors, a wide range of policies have to be recognized and more focus on private sector by enhancing it should be made.

Vokes said that action should be effective to bring in cooperation between the private and public sector and should work directly and indirectly and the results of this combination would be the key to the progress. He said that it is obvious that the private sector has a key role to pay in the agricultural development of the country.

He said that the public sector has been directly involved in the rural agriculture and mainly concentrated in research, extension work, marketing, credit programmes and fertilizer subsidies.

He said that the formal agriculture in Sri Lanka has been divided into three main areas – Paddy Sector, Plantations and the other sector and in the rural transformation paddy would also be directly involved with poverty. Paddy is involved with politics and as a result the policies towards it are very complicated.

In the case of other sector and paddy the there is private and public sector partnering and the contract system has been introduced. Marketing is now much integrated into global economy. He said that there are issues in the plantation sector too and the potential to develop is good.

He said that the growing competition Sri Lanka faces in other sectors, specially garment, the growth of agricultural sector is important. In the improvement of agriculture, countries like Thailand and Philippines provide experience in agro-business and exports as they have been in the business for the last 20 years.

He said that some of the constraints in agriculture are macro level trade and the constant policy changes as to make steady progress the policies should have to be consistent. The other constraints are the labour market and regulations as well as the lack of skilled labour.

Vokes said that if the infrastructures such as roads rural electrification are kept well, it tends to open up lot of opportunities in the rural areas and the other direct constraints would be the low productivity. Research and extension are other matters that have to be attended to. He said the research carried out has been supply driven, rather than demand driven.

He said that credit remained a concern and it is a serious issue, which particularly affect the small farmers and small entrepreneurs. This area needs some attention.

- Asian Tribune -

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