Need of the hour to confront economic challenges and concentrate on rapid development – Prof. Peiris

Sri Lanka supplies 80% of the world’s demand for cinnamon and efforts are underway to drive this percentage even further up to increase the foreign exchange earnings of the country. Infusion of new capital into the industry and the establishment of high-tech cinnamon processing factories to replace the traditional ‘kurundu wadiyas’ are two such steps that have been taken in this respect, said Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister of Export Development and International Trade, recently.

He was speaking at the opening of several selected factories in the Telwatte, Galduwa, Karandeniya and Kosgoda areas of the Galle District.

These were part of a programme initiated by the Export Development Board (EDB) to introduce the Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) for cinnamon to upgrade the quality standards and hygienic conditions prevailing in the processing of cinnamon. In addition, rupees three million was handed out as part of a capital infusion scheme.

Galle and Matara Districts, where the bulk of the country’s cinnamon production takes place, have been selected as the central areas where the new processing facilities would be located under the new programme of Agro-Export Zones of the EDB. Similar factories were declared open and cash grants given by the Minister previously in the Matara District too.

Referring to the prevalent political climate in the country, Prof. Peiris said that gratitude has played an important role in the culture of Sri Lankans throughout the ages and they always rejected the ungrateful people out of hand, as witnessed at the recently held Presidential Elections.

He said that Mahinda Rajapaksa received the highest number of votes from those who dwelt in the rural agricultural economy. Thus it was the responsibility of the Government to help such people achieve their economic aspirations. He also said that the Government is ready to attend to the needs of the people not only during election times but also thereafter and the present factory openings are an example of such behaviour.

Prof. Peiris said that terrorism that was haunting the country for a long time had now been completely wiped out and the need of the hour is to confront the economic challenges and concentrate on rapid development. Promotion of exports had to be given the pride of place in this respect and apart from the increasing of exports it is also essential to upgrade the quality of such products and engage in value-addition.

With the on-set of political stability after the Presidential Election, the maximum efforts should be channeled towards economic development. Tracing the history of cinnamon in Sri Lanka, Prof. Peiris pointed out the need to move away from tradition and embark on technological innovation. Infusion of capital and technical know-how, introduction of high-tech processing machinery, upgrading of factory standards and modernization of factories had been undertaken with the funds available in the Agro-Export Village Programme. Prof. Peiris also said that under the scheme, 20 traditional factories would be modernized.

The factories that the Minister opened were Guruge Agro Products, Telwatte, S & D Producers, Galduwa, Amarasekera Company and Tropical Island Commodities, Karandeniya and S. D. S.Supplies, Kosgoda.

Among the others in attendance were Anil Koswatte and Ms. Sujatha Weerakoon, Chairman and Director-General respectively of the EDB, Ms. Rehka Hewaliyanage, Director, EDB, Prasad Daluwatte, Regional Director, Southern Province, EDB, other members of the EDB Board and Chris Nonis, Chairman, Mackwoods.

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