Experts in discussion with the Minister of Plantation Dr. Ramesh Pathirana and other officials
A renowned team from Switzerland, widely regarded as experts on organic agriculture, met with Minister of Plantation Dr. Ramesh Pathirana and Secretary to the Ministry of Plantation Ravindra Hewavitharana on 6 August.
At the meeting, the Minister shared the country’s vision for the plantation sector and the approach and measures taken to embrace the organic fertiliser challenge.
The Minister raised many questions during this knowledge-sharing session, while the team also shared key challenges on embracing an organic ecosystem as well as ways to overcome them, especially highlighting plantation crops which account for a significant percentage of the country’s economy, exports and labour. Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka (TRI) Deputy Director – Research Production and Nematologist Keerthi M. Mohotti also participated in the session.
Earlier that day, the experts held virtual meetings via Zoom with State Minister of Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research and Innovation Dr. Seetha Arambepola, and with NIFS Acting Director/CEO and Senior Professor in Agricultural Engineering at the Department of Agricultural Engineering – University of Peradeniya Prof. Ranjith De Silva.
The State Minister and Prof. De Silva shared insightful presentations on their vision and how training and related activities need to be focused during the transition from a conventional agriculture approach to an organic one, including why the Government has taken timely decisions on this much needed conversion.
The experts also held discussions with Secretary to the State Ministry of Promoting the Production and Regulating the Supply of Organic Fertilizer M. N. Ranasinghe, and Additional Secretary Mahesh Gammanpila. The officials provided a brief on the policies and strategy being implemented, including how numerous development initiatives were already in progress especially in view of the upcoming Maha season, paving the path to successfully achieving a healthy nation under the Government’s ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ national policy framework.
They also met with the local EU representative and agriculturist Chandana Hewawasam, officials from GIZ Sri Lanka (German Agency for International Cooperation) and Deputy Ambassador of the Embassy of Switzerland in Sri Lanka.
The team of experts are from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL) and contracted by A. Baur & Co. Ltd. (Baurs) for a 10-day visit with diverse interactions, to study the country’s entire agriculture landscape and the transition towards adopting a strategic and scientific approach to embracing an organic agro-ecosystem.
Discussions involving Secretary to the State Ministry of Promoting the Production and Regulating the Supply of Organic Fertilizer M. N. Ranasinghe and Additional Secretary Mahesh Gammanpila