Sri Lanka agriculture hampered by skewed subsidies, land policies: World Bank

Oct 09, 2008 (LBO) – The World Bank has said Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector is being held back by wrong policies that place a heavy reliance on subsidies and restrictive land ownership rules.

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The bank’s new country assistance strategy (CAS) announced this week said the recent global increase in food prices offers an opportunity to revive the agriculture sector whose growth has long remained low.

“Agriculture development has been hampered by a skewed policy framework which shows a high reliance on subsidies and fosters restrictive land policies,” the World Bank said.

The bank will assist the government’s aim of enhancing rural economic growth to achieve more regionally balanced development.

This is because of the large disparities in growth between the western province where most business is concentrated and most other regions.

Relatively low growth in rural areas outside the western province was partly because of poor market access owing to poor infrastructure, the bank said.

Its studies showed that rural business-owners reported transport as the