President Ranil Wickremesinghe says that the government is committed to carrying out its agricultural modernization plan.
Speaking at recent meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat he emphasized that there are several issue fading the sector and that one of the main challenges was related to the Mahaweli Authority and its lands, which are now being resolved.
Another issue that was discussed extensively was the regional plantation companies.
The President pointed out that the main challenge faced by regional plantations is the leases that are due to expire in the next 10 or 15 years.
He stressed that if the government is going ahead with agricultural modernization, it will have to give new leases.
However, the President instructed the members of the Plantation Reform Committee (PRC) to find a basis for granting new leases, as not all companies have performed well.
He also instructed them to update the survey conducted in 2018 to assess the performance of the companies and determine the basis for granting new leases.
During the meeting, the President suggested that companies should not be allowed to sell their shareholdings without the consent of the government once they have been given land. Additionally, he also said that the issue of gemming should also be addressed. He said modernizing agriculture is turning it into agribusinesses. The PRC was asked for their views on this matter.
Other issues discussed during the meeting included housing in the plantation sector, challenges facing the three main crops (tea, rubber, and coconut) that come under the plantation sector, and problems pertaining to tea plantation line-rooms and housing.
The meeting also focused on a pilot project where land is being subcontracted to workers and issues related to Land Reform Commission (LRC) were given priority. Finally, the attention was drawn to the sale of tea to Iran.
Chairman of the PRC and Senior Advisor to the President on Economic Policy Implementation Mr. R Paskaralingam, and other members of the Committee Mr. Vish Govindasamy, Dr. Romesh Dias Bandaranaike, Mr. Charitha Ratwatte, Mr. Niraj de Mel, Mr. Chrisantha Perera, Mr. Lionel Herath, Mr. Sanjaya Herath, Dr. Rohan Fernando, Mr. Leon Fonseka, Mr. Leelanath Wickramaarachchi, Mrs. Tharangani Wickramasinghe, Mr. Srimal Wijesekera, and Mr. Harendran Krishnasamy attended this discussion.