Agriculture sector: National Chamber calls for stable plans | Sunday Observer

Agriculture sector: National Chamber calls for stable plans

 Asela de Livera
Asela de Livera

The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) will lobby for a stable plan for the agriculture sector to improve its contribution to the GDP through better storage facilities, eliminating middlemen, fair prices to farmers and a market for their produce, NCCSL President Asela de Livera told Sunday Observer Business, recently.

“The contribution of the Agriculture sector to the economy, could certainly be better than what it is today. Lack of technical know-how, poor packaging and transportation resulting in high post-harvest loss, and inadequate research on high-yielding seeds are some of the other obstacles,” de Livera said.

Around 25 percent of the work force of the country is employed in the agriculture sector. However, its contribution to the GDP has been between 6-7% with fisheries contributing around 1% and livestock below one percent. The contribution from agriculture to the GDP last year was 7.0 percent. NCCSL will focus on developing the industrial and services sector which make a major contribution to the GDP

“Sri Lanka still imports most of its needs with local manufacture accounting for a small percentage. If we impart the know-how to develop the small and medium sector entrepreneurs, the level of manufacturing in the country could be increased,” the chamber chief said adding that the country needs consistent policies which do not change with the change of Government.

He said Sri Lanka must take a cue from India where policies continue irrespective of who governs the country. Proposing and opposing policies of whichever sector must be done scientifically.

The NCCSL sees the importance of liberalising Ports and Shipping as the country is logistically placed in an advantageous position in the region.

However, the Chamber believes that opening the sector should be done systematically.

“Tourism is a sector that has immense scope for growth and makes a big contribution to the economy. Promoting the country for Medical Tourism is an area that the industry must look at while it showcases exotic locations in the country,” de Livera said, adding that the Ayurveda expo of the Chamber, each year, is an ideal occasion to showcase Sri Lanka’s potential for Indigenous medicine. Developing the SME sector is at the heart of the Chamber’s work, which initiates programs to uplift the Small and Medium (SME) sector through education and market linkages.

“We have called upon large construction companies to give priority to local companies, especially, those in the SME sector when subcontracting projects. Sri Lanka has the expertise which should be harnessed,” the Chamber chief said.