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DateLine Tuesday, 5 August 2008

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10 m coconut saplings for cultivation

Plantations Industries Minister D.M. Jayaratne said coconut cultivators who are above 60 years of age could also use air guns to protect their coconut cultivations from being destroyed by monkeys and rock squirrels, after the cultivators’ physical fitness is examined.

Addressing the Coconut Cultivators Annual convention at the BMICH recently, Minister Jayaratne said air guns are now being issued to coconut cultivators in the Matara, Galle and Kurunegala districts with the approval of the Defence Ministry.

More than 900 cultivators have applied for air guns which have tremendously helped to check the destruction caused by monkeys and rock squirrels.

The Coconut Cultivation Board is in the process of cultivating more than 10 millions coconut saplings islandwide this year. The Ministry has planned to establish nurseries in every DS division and coconut cultivators could collect their requirement from these nurseries.

The government will soon increase the levy on palm oil imports from 5 per cent to 15 per cent to further promote coconut cultivations in the country and a Task Force will be appointed by the Plantations Industries Ministry to explore new strategies in the promotion of tea, rubber and coconut cultivation.

The influx of palm oil to local market had led to a deterioration in the quality of coconut oil produced in Sri Lanka and this trend has to be curbed. The industry is also hit by the lack of experienced hands.

The Ministry is providing all assistance including necessary funds and hi tech equipment to those who wish to initiate coconut related industries. These budding entrepreneurs will also receive training and government guidance, he said.

I have instructed the officials that supplementary crops should be grown in plantation lands that belong to the Government. The excessive use of fertiliser has created an adverse impact on soil. The quality of the soil is diminishing day by day, the Minister said.

The program to provide five coconut seedlings to each family in the country is in progress. Coconut production has slightly reduced and a tangible programme and strategies should be evolved to counter this situation.

More than 1.2 million coconut trees are felled annually to meet the housing and industries needs of the country. This situation can be curtailed if an action plan is launched by the Government.

Ministry secretary Indrani Sugathadasa, Coconut Cultivators Association President Nimal Samarakkody and Coconut Cultivation Board Chairman Dr. Jayanatha Gunathilake also spoke.

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