Sri Lanka agri-business call for easier land access

Nov 10, 2009 (LBO) – A top Sri Lankan farming firm has called for easier access to land for commercial agriculture in the quest to transform subsistence farmers into viable agri-businesses. Samantha Ranatunga, chief executive of the listed Chemical Industries (Colombo), said improvements in the legal, regulatory and policy environment were needed to promote private sector investment in agriculture.

“First and foremost is land,” he told a public on constraints to agribusiness development in Sri Lanka.

The forum was organised by the Pathfinder Foundation under its ‘Sanvada’ (dialogue) programme to focus on policy recommendations for enhancing productivity and competitiveness of agribusiness.

“We have a very complicated method of allocating land to agri-business,” Ranatunga said.

“To get land in areas where commercial agriculture can do well is very complicated.”

Ranatunga said the rules of the investment promotion agency, the Board of Investment, were of not much help for agri-business.

“The BOI rules do not help – the BOI is powerless. Land needs a priority focus in the future if we want to get the corporate sector involved in agriculture.” Ranatunga suggested