First ever International Investment Promotion Forum for Eastern Province on 17 January

Monday, 13 January 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Text and Pic by Ashraff A. Samad   The first ever International Investment Promotion Forum for the Eastern Province will be held on 17 January at Taj Samudra. The event is expected draw over 300 international and local corporate leaders, according to the Eastern Provincial Council’s Agriculture, Fisheries Rural Development Tourism Minister Nasheer Ahamed. Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa will be the Chief Guest. The theme of the forum is “Seizing Employment and Wealth Creation opportunities of the Eastern Sri Lanka.” The forum is organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal production and Development, Fisheries, Rural Industries Development from the Eastern Province and Economic Development and the Ministry of Investment Promotion. This significant event is supported by the BOI, the Sri Lanka Tourism Authority, the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, the Batticaloa District Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture and the Chamber of Tourism and Industry Sri Lanka. Ahamed described the Eastern province as an “investment hot spot” in South Asia with its great potential in terms of availability of resources and the attractive incentives and facilities offered by the Government. “The provincial Ministry is focusing on attracting investments in the fields of agriculture, fisheries. Livestock development, dairy farming, tourism, rural industries and other unexplored areas with have export potential,” he said. The objective of the forum is to attract foreign and local investment to develop the province as a regional economic hub through investments to benefit both the investors and the local communities. With the projected 2.5 million tourist arrivals in 2016, the Eastern Province is fast tracking to cope up. Passikudah, Nilaveli and Kuchchaveli coastal areas are much sought after tourist destinations. The province is ideal for crop production with more scope for expanded development. There are vast opportunities for production of rice and development o rice based value-added products for domestic use as well as international markets. The province is well endowed with various physical and natural resources making it essentially an agricultural area. Sparsely used land and other crop land are about 75,000 ha in the province. “Investment opportunities exist in other sectors, mainly in fisheries, livestock and milk processing,” said Ahamed adding that 30% of the coastal areas of the country are in the East and the fisheries sector on focus is the livestock sector, which includes dairy farming. “It is a very vital sector because the country is importing about Rs. 36 billion worth of milk products annually. The Eastern Province contributes 17% of the nation’s milk products. The province has over 400,000 milk cows and each of them yield only about 1-2 litres of milk per day. We want to develop it to a level where the cows will yield an average of about 10-15 litres per day,” Ahamed said. There are also many other unexplored areas which can be developed through new investments and new technology, he added.