Sri Lanka’s Divineguma backyard economic unit program has received a boost from an unexpected direction. Seychelles, which has the highest Human Development Index in Africa, wants to implement Divineguma model at its earliest, to kick-start its agricultural revival.
“I want you to send a consultative Divineguma delegation team to Seychelles. I want to introduce the Divineguma model to more than 8000 people whose livelihoods we are trying to upgrade through community development schemes. Once we start, I will name our own program also Divineguma” announced Seychelles Minister of Natural Resources and Industry Peter Sinon on 22 August.
Minister Sinon was addressing Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce during the first ever special, business to foreign officials oriented courtesy call held in Sri Lanka for a visiting high level delegation at the Ministry on the evening of same day. The special, business to foreign official oriented courtesy call was made by Seychelles, and attended by Seychelles’ New Delhi based High Commissioner for Sri Lanka Waven William, reps of Sri Lanka’s private sector exporters to Seychelles, high ranking officials of Minister Bathiudeen including his Ministry’s Secretary Anura Siriwardene and officials from EDB.
Minister Sinon was addressing Minister Bathiudeen’s response to Minister Bathiudeen’s statement that Sri Lanka last year exported $ 2.7 million of poultry, strengthened by poultry
output from Divine-guma program as well. “Due to the vision of Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, we have successfully covered one million households last year and this year we are planning to expand the coverage to 2.5 million households,” said Minister Bathiudeen. During the session, for the first time, Minister Bathiudeen and his officials facilitated Sri Lankan exporters to exchange and forge links with the visiting Seychelles delegation on doing business with each other. Among the export sector reps present were leading fruits and vegetable exporters, seafood and also poultry.
During the sessions, Minister Sinon reaffirmed Seychelles’ strong interest for direct air links and enhanced maritime collaboration with Sri Lanka. He also expressed that cargo aircraft coming from Sri Lanka need not return empty as Seychelles can supply with abundant volumes of coconuts and related products, and high quality tuna fish, among others at ‘very competitive prices’ (Seychelles has world’s second largest Tuna processing and canning facility in the world with Indian Ocean Tuna (IOT) processing plant doing 700,000 Mt tuna annually). He also informed Minister Bathiudeen that strong Cinnamon plant growth in Seychelles –even in jungles-but no way to harvest. “We have good cinnamon growing even in jungles but there are not many to harvest from these cinnamon jungles. As a result, Cinnamon plant has become an invasive species for us,” said Minister Sinon.
Discussing his plans to adopt Divineguma model in Seychelles Minister Sinon said, “I want to incorporate the Divineguma model to upcoming Seychelles National Agriculture Investment Program (SNAIP) which is more than $ 30 million project to upgrade livelihoods. I have been searching for a suitable model and Divineguma is the answer. The SNAIP is facilitated for Seychelles by the African Development Bank, The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).”