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DateLine Wednesday, 17 October 2007

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Tax on every acre of fragmented coconut land

A Rs. 300,000 tax will be imposed on each acre of coconut land being fragmented, Coconut Development Minister Salinda Dissanayake said.

He said he has already submitted a Cabinet paper in this connection. Dissanayake, said the coconut industry provides a livelihood for nearly five million in the production, processing and marketing sectors and it is grown in 394,856 hectares, equivalent to 20 per cent of cultivable lands.

Around 70 per cent of the production is consumed locally as the second main component of daily meals accounting for 22 per cent of the daily caloric requirements of an average Sri Lankan, the Minister said.

Speaking at the Gama Negumata-Kapruka ceremony in Polgolla on Sunday, he said he had planned to increase coconut production to meet the demand of 4,000 million nuts within five years.

"We produce only 2,800 million nuts at present and the fragmentation of coconut lands has become a great threat to our coconut cultivation," Disanayake said. The Minister said in certain countries, a fuel called 'bio-diesel' was produced using coconut oil.

"We too have experimented this and found it successful. We hope to increase our coconut oil production up to 150,000 metric tons. At present we produce only 15,000 metric tons," he said. The main objective of the ceremony was to distribute 25,000 coconut saplings among 5,000 farmer families in Hiriyala.

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayaka said farmers make a valuable contribution to the country's development effort.

"The Government will grant every possible assistance to them. Coconut is regarded as one of the most valuable tree crops in the world, because of its multitude of uses and thereby the opportunities for increasing the income of rural farmers and their families where all family members can engage in coconut related income generating activities," he said. "Coconut cultivators should be provided with milch cows.

Then they will be able to produce compost manure. Coconut cultivators use excessive insecticides and weedicides and other chemicals for their coconut plantations. As a result the fertility of the top soil is reduced gradually," the Prime Minister said.

 

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