Saving the coconut industry
The decision to impose a tax of Rs.300,000 for every
acre of fragmented coconut land is a move in the right
direction. It is hoped that this would put a halt to
cannibalisation of the country’s vast coconut plantations that
is going unchecked.
Not stopping at this the Government should also embark on a
vigourous replanting programme in order to make up for the
dwindling acreage of coconut land in the country. Today the huge
demand for housing has made prime coconut land the major victim
of property developers.
One has only to take a ride along the stretch to Chilaw or
Puttalam road to witness the vast expanses of barren land which
were once rich coconut plantations. This is also the same in
other parts of the North Western Province where denuded coconut
lands is the norm.
If this depredation continues there will come a time when we
would have to resort to imports to meet the local demand - an
irony considering that coconut was once the country’s foremost
export crop alongside tea and rubber which brought in the
Today while tea holds its premier status the other two crops
have hit bad times. Therefore immediate measures are needed to
resurrect the coconut industry which apart from providing a
livelihood to a vast majority is also dependent by almost 70 per
cent of our population for their consumption needs.
However, it is doubtful if the Rs.300,000 tax par acre is
going to be any deterrent against the parcelling of coconut land
given the massive housing boom that has now sweeping the
Since the Government cannot prevent coconut landowners from
disposing of their acreages it should consider introducing some
form of incentive scheme in order to arrest this trend before it
is too late.Because leaving out the economic aspect the coconut
has been an integral part of our domestic set up and forms the
main component of our indigenous food and other preparations.
It therefore behoves the Government to prevent the crop from
extinction and take prompt measures for regeneration. Today the
fate that has befallen the coconut industry could be gauged by
the high prices of coconut in the open market and also coconut
Overall production has dwindled and demand has outstripped
the supply. Mill owners too complain about a drop in business
and the lack of incentives while growers are experimenting with
crop diversity on coconut land which all points to the ailing
state of our coconut industry.
The coconut that was taken for granted by Lankan folk is
today turning out to be a luxury item. The Government therefore
while taking measures to prevent the parcelling of coconut land
should evolve a national policy to protect the crop and save it
It should immediately form a body of experts in the field to
devise way to foster the growth of coconut cultivation and
enthrone the coconut to the state of its pristine days.
Looming energy crisis
The revelation made by Sustainable Energy Authority Chairman
Ananda S.Gunasekera that the world is unlikely to find a viable
solution to the energy crisis in the next 20-30 years should
ring alarm bells here in Sri Lanka which is grappling with
recurring power crisis situations.
Addressing Zonal Educational Directors to educate them on
Energy Conversation the Chairman warned of a depletion of fossil
fuel and that until discovery of such viable energy renewable
sources the people would have to undergo difficulties.
Coming from an expert of his calibre the Government needs to
sit up and take note of the full implications of this warning.
The country is already burdened with a huge fuel bill to operate
diesel powered generators which we can ill afford given the
recurrent rise in world oil prices.
With expanding development that includes the Eastern
rebuilding the fuel bill could mount to unbearable proportions.
The country’s overdependence of hydro power has put us into a
panic mode with the Government looking to tap all available
sources of energy to meet the snowballing demand.
Projects such as Norochcholai and Kerawalapitiya have high
gestation periods and would not come to our immediate
assistance. Most of the other smaller projects too are still on
the drawing boards. The only opinion left therefore is
conservation on a large scale until we are able to tide over
We are not holding any bets for this to be a huge success or
the idea to be great hit with our large gadget oriented society.
Even Government departments and institutions are guilty of
massive energy waste.
It is high time the authorities set about tackling the energy
crisis with more seriousness taking into account the larger
picture.. The Government should embark on stepped up drive to
drill into the public the need for energy conservation given the
looming threat. All state institutions, the private sector and
schools should be coopted for this exercise.