- Claims ban has caused extensive damage to plantation companies, planters and agricultural economy
- Insists Govt. to take effective measures to prevent further damage, estimates losses so far to be over Rs. 20 billion
- Says ban on glyphosate was key reason for low voter turnout at LG polls
- Reiterates no large corporations can influence him
- Launches ‘Wevili Saviya’ program, official website of Coconut Cultivation Board
By Charumini de Silva
In a hard-hitting speech, Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake yesterday lashed out at groups that were opposed to the lifting of the ban on controversial weedicide glyphosate, noting that this ban had caused extensive damage to plantation companies, planters and the agricultural economy of Sri Lanka.
He questioned as to how the farming community would continue moving forward without weedicides as utilising human labour alone to control growing weeds in plantations was costly and ineffective in meeting ever-increasing demand.
The Minister made these remarks during the second phase of the national event to hand over mobile sales service trucks to 33 Kapruka committees at the Coconut Cultivation Board in Battaramulla yesterday.
The mobile sales service program intends to provide a reasonable price for farmers and consumers. In addition to the sale of coconut plants, this mobile service also collected coconut shells and coconut ekel.
The event also saw the launch of the ‘Wevili Saviya’ program, official website launch of the Coconut Cultivation Board (www. coconut.gov.lk), the handover of tabs to regional managers and the ceremonially sharing of Rs. 10 million in bonuses among employees.
“A weedicide is not needed for home gardening but it is essential for commercial agriculture,” he stressed.
Noting that it was difficult to cultivate coconut without the proper weedicides, he insisted it was critical for the Government to take effective measures to prevent further damage to the agricultural economy.
The National Economic Council (NEC) decided to lift the arbitrary ban imposed on glyphosate early this month in light of overwhelming scientific consensus that the substance was not harmful to human health. However, the Cabinet this week arrived at a decision to appoint a special Cabinet Subcommittee to decide on the usage of glyphosate in the country.
Dissanayake also charged that the ban imposed on glyphosate was a key reason for the low voter turnout for the Government at the recent local government election.
Referring to the objection of Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera to the lifting of the ban on glyphosate, he insisted that it has now been proven that the weedicide was not harmful to humans and there was no proven connection between glyphosate and kidney disease.
Reiterating that no large corporations could influence him, the Minister underscored the need for weedicide to control weeds at plantations.
According to the Minister, the ban on glyphosate had caused losses to the country’s economy at large, which is estimated to be over Rs. 20 billion.
Despite the challenges the industry faces, Dissanayake expressed optimism over the launched programs. He said he expected the Kapruka committees and the Wevili Saviya programs to create a positive impression among youngsters and encourage them to enter the industry as entrepreneurs.