Economist Dr. Coomaraswamy to address Planters’ Association’s 161st AGM

Monday, 7 September 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Renowned economist Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy will be the Chief Guest and deliver the keynote address at the 161st Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the country’s apex plantation industry body – the Planters’ Association of Ceylon – to be held on Friday, 11 September. 

Dr. Coomaraswamy, who previously served as Director, Economic Affairs Division and Deputy-Director, Secretary-General’s Office at the Commonwealth Secretariat, now functions as the Deputy Chairman of local economic think tank, Pathfinder Foundation. 

The 161st AGM marks a milestone for the Planters’ Association of Ceylon, which has made a defining contribution to the country’s plantation sector and thereby to the national economy over a period of more than one-and-a-half centuries, since it was founded in 1854 by a group of pioneering coffee planters. At present, the Planters’ Association has a membership of 185 and these members account for 36.80% and 35.63% respectively (over a third in both cases), of the total estimated extent of tea and rubber under cultivation in the country, in addition to accounting for a substantial portfolio of palm oil and coconut produced in the country. 

While the 22 Regional Plantation Companies represented by the Association provide employment to nearly 200,000 individuals, the members of the Planters’ Association also manage 409 factories/production units. 

The host of nationally-significant achievements/contributions of the Planters’ Association includes facilitating nearly a quarter of the total cost of constructing the railway into the hill country by requesting planters to be subjected to a voluntary tax from 1856 to 1868, making the first organised effort to promote Ceylon Tea in 1879 and playing a key role in the establishment of the Tea Research Institute of Ceylon in 1925. 

Continuing this tradition, the Planters’ Association recently commissioned an investment bank to conduct a study of plantation sector – particularly to analyse the financials of the Regional Plantation Companies. The Association has also played a crucial role in educating key industry stakeholders of the present situation of the plantation sector – particularly the need to address high wage and other productivity issues. The District Planters’ Associations which are affiliated to the parent body too have been active in supporting the development of Plantation Executives by conducting regular meetings with eminent guest speakers, especially on personal development.