Dr. Ramesh Pathirana, Minister of Plantation and the French Ambassador to Sri Lanka EH Eric Lavertu visited the Rubber Research Institute at the Darting Field Estate, Agalawatta on the 25th.
The purpose of this visit was to explore the preparations for the pilot project to strengthen the economy of small rubber plantation owners in Sri Lanka using the latest technology.
The project is being implemented with financial and technical assistance from the French Ministry of Economy.
This project is to be implemented on behalf of small rubber estate owners in Ampara and Moneragala districts. The first training was given to 6000 smallholder rubber estate owners in the Moneragala District on how to apply the latest technology in rubber cultivation.
The Minister of Plantation Dr. Ramesh Pathirana stated that the country is currently earning a large income from the export of rubber related products. The Minister said that his ministry would extend its fullest support to the President’s program to develop the country’s manufacturing sector and that the present government has a definite long-term plan to develop the country’s manufacturing sector.
Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana stated that the price of rubber in the country has come down in 2019 and due to that many people were reluctant to join the rubber cultivation. However, the situation changed with the coming to power of the present government, he said, adding that 7.5 metric tons of rubber had been exported by 2020.
The Minister appreciated the support extended by the French Government for the betterment of rubber cultivation in the country and stated that he expects that support in the future as well.
Speaking on the occasion, the French Ambassador to Sri Lanka EH Lavertu said that the Government of France is ready to assist at any time in the development of the Sri Lankan manufacturing sector.
Recalling the friendship between the two countries, the Ambassador said that he was grateful to the President and the Government for joining hands with his country for such an innovative project.
The French Ambassador further stated that he is pleased that Sri Lanka has been able to present a better product to the world together with his country.
Kanaka Herath, Minister of State for Establishment Rehabilitation, Tea and Rubber Crops Cultivation and Industrial Modernization and Promotion of Tea and Rubber Exports stated that rubber cultivation in the Kalutara District has been reduced from 1,200 hectares to 1,100 hectares.
The State Minister said that the reason for this was the various problems faced by rubber growers in the recent past and added that the present government is committed to developing rubber cultivation by solving those problems.
He said the government was working with a long-term plan to develop rubber cultivation in the country and thanked the French government for its support to the current government, led by the President, in implementing those plans.
Tilakaratne Banda, Secretary, State Ministry of Company Establishment Reforms, Tea Estate Crops, Tea Factory Modernization and Tea Export Diversification, Prof. Sudheera Ranwala, Chairperson, Rubber Research Institute, Dr. Lakshman Rodrigo, Director, Rubber Research Institute, Deputy Director Research (Biology) Dr. Vasana Wijesundera and others were present at the occasion.