13th September 2010, www.dailynews.lk, By Charumini de Silva
The Government has allocated 40,000 acres of land for the private sector in Monaragala, Wellawaya, Minneriya, Sabaragamuwa and Mahiyanganaya up to Badulla to develop the agriculture sector.
The Economic Development Ministry and the Treasury is keen on this project. Utilizing these lands for cultivations would provide a better harvest for the local consumption as well as for the exports. The companies have already submitted their applications to the Economic Development Ministry and to the Board of Investment (BOI) to acquire these lands National Chamber of Exporters Chairman, Sarath de Silva told Daily News Business.
He said companies are ready to commence cultivation by December this year.
They hope to have a harvest by mid next year. “We need increased food consumption as the country is aiming to achieve 2.5 million tourist arrivals by 2016,” he said.
The growers should focus on providing more high end fruits and vegetables and organic food while concentrating on tropical foods.
The 40,000 acre lands will provide a better chance for the country to have a surplus of raw material.
“The agricultural product exporters are keen to cultivate perenial crops like pomegranate and grapes since there is a high demand for these products. We have educated farmers to adopt modern and high-tech agricultural methods to have a better harvest,” he said.
The demand for food in the international market is enormous. The global warming has affected so much that it has created a massive demand for food.
“There is an increasing demand for organic food in all parts of the world. Sri Lanka has a better opportunity to cater to this niche market as we have all the natural resources,” de Silva said. The reduced interest rates and the instructions given by the Central Bank to the banks to provide loans for the exporters is encouraging. The local entrepreneurs should take the advantage of this opportunity before the foreign investments come in.