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Concept Paper: Economic oasis (Arthika Dupatha)

By Dr. Anton Balasuriya:


This paper details the concept of economic development to jump start the rural economy and alleviate poverty beyond COVID 19.

The strategy is to combine the presently available infrastructure and administrative facilities and bring a new dimension of human motivation factors, as well as, to adding new resources to strength the weak areas and those that are non-existent presently.

The paper commences with the author’s assumptions, followed by three critical parameters necessary for accelerated development. They are:

(iii)     A dedicated administrative structure

The paper thereafter proposes the development of an action plan. The main features being:

(vi)     Expected benefits and ripple effects to the total economy.


(This is a concept to jump start the rural economy and alleviate poverty beyond COVID 19 using presently available infrastructure and administrative facilities and adding new resources where necessary. It is pertinent to mention that agricultural and industrial revolutions took place in all ancient civilizations and in the recent world in a similar fashion. In other words, provision of administrative functions and supervision from a central node radiating outwards in every direction. At the same time, the provision of facilities for growing harvesting and manufacturing and social and recreational facilities for comfortable living to every citizen)

Qualifications and Assumptions by the author

  1. The author is not aware of the present ground situation
  2. Believes that a part of the infrastructure needs mentioned below are in existence but not necessarily inter connected
  3. Aware that agronomical activities are going on but without the necessary support services that are necessary
  4. Assumes that adding value to agricultural produce to the final market is limited
  5. Believes that there is no sophisticated processing of goods to the local and export market 
  6. Structure is not adequate to meet what is proposed here
  7. Believes that product planning and marketing of finished goods is weak or non-existent.
  8. Believes that the farming community and the entrepreneur circles do not have a coherent structure or plan
  9. Aware that a coherent administrative system existed under the British rule to cater to their mercantile interests and unfortunately due to political expediency this excellent system without being adopted to suit new independent Sri Lanka was jerry meandered and torn apart.

The process of economic development with special emphasis on agroindustry and poverty alleviation

The economic advancement of a country depends on three critical parameters. They are;

The different facets of human development, motivating people and making them productive and goal oriented are based on the well renowned and tested theories of psychologists/behavioral scientists over the years.  In order for us to succeed we must pay heed to the observations of these experts.

 In my opinion, any leader, be they, Civil, Military or Political, need to listen and comprehend and thereafter be guided by their observations.

 Over the last 80 years, most developed countries, as well as, fast developing countries have followed them and benefitted in areas such as military strategy, economic development and civilian administration

I have highlighted in this conceptual paper, the motivational theories of four leading members of this group so as to give a background on human behavior in relation to what is proposed here (see appendix 1).

Based on the factors introduced here by the four renowned thinkers our planners and movers can lay the foundations for success and longevity of this initiative “Arthika Dupath

as” (It is important to read Appendix 1 before you continue to read the rest of the paper)

The process of economic advancement depends, not alone, on rules and regulations, sweat and labor, but also, on the basic and secondary human needs of both the administrators and the target group namely, the citizens. This is the reason I have highlighted the theories of the four leading thinkers of human psychology and motivation (appendix 1) so that the planners and administrators could evaluate their own status as well those of the target group and utilize these findings on motivation so that they will be guided by them when executing this project or any other project

Therefore, any plan needs to cater to their human needs, such as, comfort, security, safety, relaxation, togetherness, laughter, camaraderie, fear for their children’s future and   security of work environment. Given below are examples:

What we really need is a new way of thinking to overcome all these deficiencies.  The concept proposed below is to develop satellite facility centers “ARTHIKA DUPATAs” (ADs) that cater to the target group, administrators, planners and the general population as a whole.

(2a) Administrative buildings (existing buildings could be utilized, if available) for various administrative activities. The permanent administrators, technical staff, teachers and other professionals will reside permanently in the houses that are provided in the special housing schemes.

(2b) Health care facilities: This wouldconsist of a  General Hospital, An Ayurveda hospital complex,  Maternity care center, infant milk feeding center,  Crèche, Day care center, Seniors’  home and care centers among others

(2c) Police Post and Court complex, correction facilities and other legal facilities

(2d) Library and reading facilities with computer backup

(2e) Outdoor and indoor recreational and Sports facilities such as volleyball, badminton, basketball, tennis, swimming etc.

Indoor recreation facilities such as board games, carrom, darts, chess, draughts, table tennis, among others. These facilities to be available to all citizens in the ‘Arthika Dupathas’.

Musical center catering to those inclined to learn to play musical instruments, to sing and learn various dance forms. 

(2f) Banking and other financial facilities such as Development banking, Commercial Banking, micro finance facilities, financial advisory centers among others

(2g) Industrial complex with facilities for milling, grinding, forging, welding, arc furnace, blacksmiths, wood working among others.  A dedicated facility for canning, aseptic packaging, crushing, mincing, juicing and bottling facilities, semi processing products, freeze packaging among others, where entrepreneurs, farmers and growers and small businesses could use these   facilities under supervision on a usage-based time payment basis.

Medium to large scale Processing and Production facilities in partnership with the private sector to manufacture finished products such as fruit juices, other beverages, different types of sauces, jams and preservatives, milk and meat products   both for the export market and the local market

(2h) Efficient road network, transport system and communication network

(2i) Agrarian Center to propagate and sell plants and seedlings, plant nurseries, compost organic soils, agricultural tools and gardening implements.

(2j) Educational facilities such as,

A Senior/ Secondary/ Primary school (a la Royal College). Existing schools if any could be upgrade with state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and proficient and experienced teachers. Encourage top grade teachers to permanently reside here, special allowances such as distress allowance, free travel facilities to be provided. Apart from all the welfare facilities such as, subsidized/free housing, social and recreational facilities mentioned elsewhere.

(2k) Agri Skills training and Demonstration Centre for training of better farming methods, preparation of fertilizer, skill training  in apiary( bee keeping), aqua culture (aquarium fish), sericulture (silk worm rearing), animal husbandry, manufacture of milk products such as cheese, yoghurt, curd, butter, weaving and reed ware etc.

(2 l) Technical school to teach theory and practice in technical and technological fields

 (2m) Skills training Centre based on the German Gymnasium system. In this system basic skills training is divided into 120 job categories such as, scientific sewing, hair dressing, personals care, culinary work, book keeping, draughtsmanship, secretarial work, woodwork, carpentry, lathing, welding and soldering, electrical work, electronics, animal husbandry, among others

(2n) Religious facilities: Places of worship for all faiths with assembly halls for children’s religious education

(2o) Social facilities Centre such as theatre, film center, facility for weddings, receptions and social gatherings, meeting rooms for conferences and workshops

(2p) Last rites facilities: funeral parlous and crematoriums and cemeteries,

(2q) Food catering Center: Mixed food court (like in Singapore) where the common man and the high official can eat in the same environment.

(2r) Storage facilities such as, large warehouses, silos for paddy and pulses, corn, semi processed products such as cassava chips, pepper, cinnamon etc. Cool rooms for tobacco leaves for export, canned fruits and juices, medicinal plants, among others

(2s) Housing complexes for all administrative staff, teachers and other professional staff so that they live on a permanent basis while they are employed in the AD

(2t) A mixed market place. Market stalls for fresh vegetables, fruits and a wet market for meat and fish, a market for dry goods groceries together with facilities for a weekly ‘pola’

(2u) Water Body: If there is an existing lake (‘weva’) to be improved.  In the absence of one, to create a water body for example, by damning a river or building an aqueduct to transport water from another water source

(2v) Waste processing and disposal Centre for proper sanitation environmental care

(2w) Solar farms to generate electricity for the total complex

(2x) Rain harvesting system to conserve water to be used for non-drinking purposes

(2y) Bio gas production unit, incinerators etc., where agricultural and other waste could be converted into gas.

Most of the towns in our target areas came up unplanned, as such, the farming community, micro, small and medium business community self-employed people and town administrators who live around these towns do not have a planned network to interlink their work.

 All requirement s stated above may not be present currently. Therefore, an attempt needs to be made to coordinate existing activities and bridge the gaps with the introduction of additional utilities.

Action Plan

What is planned here is a dedicated environment with planners executors, responsible administrators in all fields, working in coordination with the target population.

A Working Plan (WP) to be devised with a Mission, planned specific   activities, role of the administrators and the target groups,

Therefore, the Working Plan (WP) would consist of

 (i)   Mission/project objectives

 (ii)   Activities to achieve objectives

 (iii)  Work hours needed to achieve all activities

 (iv)  Estimated total project expenses,

 (v)  Monitoring and evaluation systems, and

 (vi)  Expected total benefits

  (vii) Ripple effects

The plan should be accepted and endorsed by all through seminars, people participation work groups, fact finding discussions etc. The target population should be aware off all the activities and benefits and believe that they have contributed to the plan

The administrators chosen for the task force must be knowledgeable, dedicated and motivated to give off their best continuously.

WP (i) Project objective/mission

To set up comprehensive package of facilities for less developed areas in the country in order to enhance to the maximum all aspect of human life both social and economic. This in turn will bring benefits to the total economy of the country. 

WP (ii) Activities to achieve objective

 Initially the district areas to be identified are from the periphery as they are more isolated as against districts with major towns and better infrastructure. A tentative list is given below (later to be prioritized by the project planners)

Hambantota, Monaragala, Ampara, Batticaloa, Trincomalee ,Mullaitivu, Killinochi, Polonaruwa, Anuradhapura, Mannar, Puttlam.and the balance districts

Initially, one Arthika Dupatha to be established in one District as a pilot project. The location to be carefully selected avoiding any major towns already developed

(a) Identify already existing buildings and infrastructure facilities that are currently available that can be altered and utilized for the activities 2a to 2y mentioned above.  If any are inadequate or absent, then new facilities to be added or constructed.

(b). Identify activities that bring economic benefits. These will be influenced by what is feasible in the specific area.

Given below are examples (see appendix 2)

(Please read appendix 2 before proceeding)

( c) Administrative action

(i)Define owner farmers and registered growers their extension of land, what is presently grown and the average quantity in every harvest.

(ii)  Invite private sector to invest in medium and large farms, individually or in cooperation with local entrepreneurs and land owners.

(iii)Based on an overall plan, give contracts for production based on specific quantities needed in the market so that oversupply does not reduce prices, create wastage/spoilage, lead to protests and demonstrations.

(iv)  Provide extension such as business and technical advice, provision of top-quality seeds and seedlings (young plants), encourage organic fertilizer, facilitate implements on loan from the Implements Loan bank. Provide agricultural extension in all areas.

(v)  In the case of animal husbandry, provide top quality (good stock) milch cows (calves), kids (goats), sheep(lamb), pigs (piglets} pullets(chicks), ducklings and veterinary extension.

(vi)   Provide financial facilities to purchase livestock, seed, seedlings fertilizer, farm implements, etc.

(vii)   Provide collection and storage facilities, inculcate good packaging techniques among others.

(viii)  Guarantees for all producers. These fundamental assurances mentioned below will be crucial especially during harvest time such as, storage facilities, buy back at farm gate, transport into cool rooms all perishable items, fixed prices, buy back guarantees with prices mutually agreed upon 

(ix)   Organize factory production in the complex for products such as fruit juices and cordials, jams, preservatives, pickles, condiments, frozen goods, meat and poultry by products, milk products using state of the art packaging techniques such as aseptic packaging (tetra pack), frozen packs, bottling and tin cans, so that all grown and produced items and their by- products are made ready for local and international market

(x) To aid micro businesses, organize Business Cocoons (a concept introduced by, the author in South Africa) see appendix 3

(xi) Bring back the old ‘Rajakariya” system, i.e., compulsory voluntary work from all citizens. Suggest that each citizen to provide 7 days free labor/work per year for the government).

Examples of what they can provide, are cleaning the environment, tree planting, painting buildings, cutting drainage canals, clearing roads and beaches of debris, teaching, manning day care centers, teaching English, providing sewing classes etc.,

(xii) Environment friendly activities; organize a tree planting campaign on all roads (both sides) as well as on the boundaries of rivers, reservoirs and other water bodies, with a mixture of selected trees that has economic and environmental benefits. 

Examples are,  Food trees ( Jak, Bread fruit, etc.), medicinal (‘aralu’,’bulu,’ etc) hard woods (Teak, Mahogany , etc.,), soft woods (‘lunumidella,’ kapok, etc), flowering trees (Jacaranda, Flamboyant, etc), shade trees (‘mara,’ ‘nuga’ etc,).

(xiii) Plan and execute and back up for all items mentioned in 2a to 2y previously

(xiv) Develop planning charts for every activity (templates available with the writer.)

C. Total work hours needed

Prepare charts showing activity, work-hours of each individual involved with planning, execution and monitoring, time span for completion, monitoring and evaluation

Projections for work hours needed would include work hours of each individual both administrative, supervision, labour hours for every activity from commencement to completion. Please note accurate assessment of total work hours is critical for cost calculations

D. Cost Calculations

Calculate the cost of each activity which would include, capital goods, raw materials, transport, intermediate goods, processing, storage, livestock, factory time processing into finished and semi-finished goods, packaging marketing costs etc. Add total work hours for every given activity. 

There are many ways in finding funds for the activities, Possible fund sources are Government development funds already demarcated to the area, Foreign Aid from World Bank, Asian Development  Bank, funds from the private sector, Donor funds from different countries, such as, USAID (USA) GTZ (Germany) CIDA and IDRC (Canada) JAICA(Japan) Sasakwa foundation (Japan) SIDA (Sweden) FINNIDA (Finland), DANIDA (Denmark) British AID ( UK)  AUS AID (Australia), Development Aid from  India, China, Russia, among others.

Funds from local billionaires, millionaires, benefactors, investors and other philanthropists

E. Monitoring and evaluation

M & E will be based on the activity charts mentioned above. Depending on the activity the monitoring group will monitor and evaluate on a weekly, monthly, quarterly basis. If issues arise on projects such as disease and pestilence, breakdowns and any other unplanned or unexpected cause, course correction will place at these M&E meetings

F. Total Expected Benefits would include, among others

Ripple effects

For example,

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (refer back) they would have achieved needs  such as physical, safety and social,  reaching towards self- esteem and self-actualization needs.

Herzberg’s, both hygiene and motivator factors will be imbibed by most of the participants both from the administration and private sector partners, as well as, rest of the people involved in the programme

McGregor’s Theory X and Y.  In this case, those falling into the group under theory X will be compelled to fall in line as the government and the private sector will need to impose a management system of coercion, control and punishment to achieve goals defined in the program and those who fall into the category of Theory Y the rewards and benefits of the project will be the main motivator

McClelland’s Needs theory of motivation will satisfy those who desire the need for affiliation, while those seeking the need for power will have their objectives fulfilled. Those who desire the need for achievement will benefit most.

 In terms of the people and the country

Appendix 1:          HOW DO YOU MOTIVATE PEOPLE

  1. Abraham   Maslow’s* Hierarchy of Needs in his treatise on theory of human motivation (1943). He described human needs in ascending order as

Basic Needs

Psychological needs

Need for:  being loved, belonging, inclusion. Friendship, family, sexual intimacy

Need for: self-esteem, power, recognition, Prestige, Confidence, Achievement, Respect of others, respect by others, Feeling of achievement

 Self-fulfillment needs                     

Need for: Development, morality, creativity, spontaneity, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts

*Abram Maslow, US Physiologist (1908 to 1970) best known for his theory of Human motivation ((1943) Hierarchy of needs and Self Actualization

2. Fredrick Herzberg’ s* Two factor theory of motivation- Hygiene factors and Motivator factors.

*Fredrick Herzberg. Behavioral scientist (1923-200 best known for his Two Factor Theory of Motivation (1959)

3. Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Y

The management implications for theory X workers to achieve organizational (development) objectives a business (government) need to impose a management system of coercion, control, and punishment

They are people who do not dislike work. Depending on the working conditions, work could be considered a source of satisfaction or punishment

The management implications for theory Y workers are that ,to achieve organization objectives  of rewards of varying kinds are likely to be the  most popular motivator. Hence the challenge for management (administration) is to create a working environment (culture)where workers can show and develop their creativity.

*Douglas McGregor, (1906-1964) management professor at MIT Sloan School of management

 Famous for his Theory X and Y on Human work motivation (1960)

David Mc Leland’s * Need theory of Motivation

Those in category one wants to belong to the group, wants to be liked and will go along with whatever the rest of the group wants to do

Those in category Two, Want control and influence others, like to win arguments, enjoy competition and winning and enjoys status and recognition

Those in Category Three, Sets and accomplishes challenging goals, take calculated risks, like to receive regular feedback on their progress and achievement, likes to work alone

*David McClelland ( 1917 to 1998)Professor of Psychology Harvard University noted for his work on Motivation need theory(1961)

APPENDIX 2    –  


Seri culture( silk work rearing), apiculture (bee keeping), aqua culture (fish breeding in lakes and other water bodies),  edible sea fish breeding in netted cages in the estuaries, mangrove swamp crocodile farming ( for their skins for export) aquarium fish breeding (for export) edible frog farming for frog legs export, deer and goat farming for export ,

*The author is experienced in leading and introducing such projects in many countries abroad

brassware, ironware, copperware, wood products, bamboo and reed products, clay, stone and cement-based products, among others.

Appendix 3 –

                               THE INDUSTRIAL COCOON CONCEPTS       


A cocoon is woven by butterflies to grow its young and from this cocoon emerges a beautiful butterfly. Similarly, we can nurture our aspiring entrepreneurs in a business cocoon to become successful entrepreneurs

The concept

The concept although similar to industrial estates, business hives, industrial parks and incubators is somewhat different. For many years, countries have set up industrial parks, estates but they have not been efficient or successful due to many reasons

Why a Cocoon?

The idea of a cocoon was developed to replace some of the shortcomings of the other alternatives. The cocoon is a place where micro or small businesses are assisted with working space, raw materials technical knowhow, machine and tools on hire, other utilities such as, electricity, water, effluent treatment, rest room  facilities, first aid center, training services, RD facilities, fire and hazard control, finances, product design and quality and a market for the product through advance buying contracts

They could be clustered as single product cocoon  (e.g. straw hats, bamboo table mats, reed slippers) different products from the same raw material cocoon,(e.g. ekle bread baskets, ekle place mats, ekle blinds, ekle artificial flower stems) handloom weaving etc., different parts to create a final product cocoon (e.g. leather belts which is leather, metal buckles, decorative metal studs, locking buttons, belt pouches etc.)

The cocoon will have facilities as per diagram attached

How do you plan the venture?

1. Location and Premises.   Least expensive and simplest would be to utilize vacant (not in use) buildings such as warehouses, railway yard buildings, old factory buildings etc.

Another option would be, used and discarded containers, making them habitable by adding a roof and cutting doors and windows

More expensive would be constructing large hangers where factory space could be demarcated as per diagram.

2. Skills training.  Short Training of entrepreneur skills for 15 days. Skills training on product processing 15 days

 3. Utilities.  such as, water, electricity, communication facilities, waste disposal, firefighting equipment among others.

4.   Manpower needs. Government/private sector administrator, first aid nurse and attendant, one or two entrepreneurs to act as providers of raw materials one entrepreneur as provider of tools for hire, another entrepreneur as security and firefighting, IDB consultants for business extension and advice, another entrepreneur to run a trading house to market the goods

5.  Entrepreneurs select 20 to 40 micro and small entrepreneurs to produce goods

 6.  Contracts, develop contracts to be signed by each and every participant identifying each one roles and obligations, limits and authorities

 7. Moving to their new locations after 3 years where they are provided for a fee their new premises within 300 to 1000 meters with access to all the facilities at the center, which will be for another 2 years

 8. During these 3 + 2 years the entrepreneurs are guided in areas such as saving from profits, opening a bank account and establishing good relations with banks, instructions on how to save and invest for the future, establishing good relation with buyers and suppliers of goods and other institutions, Look for land, location, market area

 9. New batch is taken into the cocoon every 3 years

10. Help is provided for the participants to move after the 5th year to other locations and expand their businesses

* This concept was conceptualized by the author and activated in South Africa under a small business Development project

 Appendix 4     – 

   A possible alternative for land utilization in the cultivation of rice (block farming)

There is considerable waste in the field of Agriculture in the cultivation of rice

For example, in the case of land demarcated for Paddy cultivation, the concept of inheritance and decimation of land into minute blocks is totally uneconomical, leading to waste in land, labor, water, fertilizer, apart from poor methodology of land use.

A possible way forward is Block farming*.   Amalgamating paddy lands into say 100-acre blocks.  A large stakeholder providing the management and administration and in turn having a certain portion of shares in the company for their financial investment.   Every small holder farmer/ owner who subscribes, pledging their land to the company to be issued shares on land value.

The benefits to the farmer are many folds, (i) holds ownership of land as well as being a shareholder of the company (ii) receives share of the profit 

(iii) obtains permanent employment in the paddy estate with a daily wage for their labour(iv) becomes exempt from all the laborious activities, of purchasing seed, fertilizer, insecticides and weedicides, manually ploughing the fields, sowing harvesting, security/ guarding, financing, storing, marketing etc. 

The overall benefits will be;

  1. intelligent use of mechanized agriculture,
  2. water conservation,      
  3. efficient harvesting methods,
  4.  intelligent use and control of fertilizer,
  5.  pest control and prevention of vermin attack,
  6.  reduction and /or elimination of spoilage, 
  7.  efficient scientific storage facilities,
  8.  the up gradation of farmer livelihoods,
  9.  improved scientific agriculture methods,
  10.  income generating short crops during the two off seasons,
  11.  benefit to the farmer through elimination of lost time, due to, ill         health, paucity of cash in finding funds for, seed paddy, fertilizer, storage, water and farm implements etc.,
  12.  growing of better varieties for export,

 A feasibility study to be carried through a pilot project.

 It may be worthwhile to look at the possibility of selecting the land area under the Kattukurai kulam Resevoir, in the Puttalam district where paddy lands are to be allocated to selected farmers on a quotient basis (News item Ceylon Today 13th may 2020).  As a test case a private sector company could be encouraged to involve themselves with the likely farmers as shareholders, as well as, cultivators as suggested above

Please refer also to   existing studies available at the Central Bank and other Agriculture Research units and the Department of Agriculture on wastage in harvesting and transport, vermin/rodent attacks on harvested paddy etc. The perennial loss of cultivable best paddy lands. According to Dr A. Tennakoon’s research, around 33% of the most suitable land is not cultivated due to the ‘Thatu maru’ system which waste cultivable land on ownership boundaries (Niyaras)

*The writer introduced a similar scheme in Uganda for coffee small holders details available with him

(- Dr.  Anton Balasuriya is a Development Economist with extensive management and development experience in the Asia Pacific Region, Africa and South America. He has worked on several development projects in many related fields in 34 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. A noteworthy sojourn was in South Africa where as Senior advisor to the President Mandela Government he was responsible for the small micro medium enterprise template for the country as well as Government Capital budgeting.  In Uganda, he was Chief of Party for a project titled COMPETE which was Championed by President Muzaveni designed to address Poverty Alleviation via competitiveness mechanisms for the Fisheries, Coffee & Cotton sectors. Dr. Balasuriya was a Senior Economist of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, a Senior Manager at Unilever, Founding  CEO of the Sri Lanka Business Development Centre, before venturing overseas as CEO of Technonet Asia, Singapore, an international network of 13 Asian Pacific countries He was head hunted to lead the New south African initiative on small enterprise development under the Mandela administration. Over the last 24 years he has planned, participated and lead several assignments in thirty-four countries principally in the Development Economics genre. Dr. Balasuriya earned a BA. Economics from Peradeniya, Srilanka.  MSc in Economic Planning from the University of Stockholm, Sweden. DBA and Ph.D. from Edinburgh thesis on  “Financial problems of Small and Medium firms in Ceylon” He has served as a consultant to innumerable projects both in Sri Lanka and overseas on national development programs for local & foreign institutions and Governments. -)

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