During a recent meeting at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo, President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that the government is committed to carrying out its agricultural modernization plan.
However, he also highlighted certain issues that need to be addressed in the sector.
One of the main challenges mentioned by the President 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.
Attention was also drawn to the sale of tea to Iran.