Primary industries on the correct path – Daya Gamage

The primary industries ministry implemented a number of productive programmes in the past two years to realize the government objective to help export earnings achieve a broad-based improvement, says primary industries minister Daya Gamage.

He was speaking at the launch of the EU Technical assistance to the agriculture modernization project at Hotel Shangri-La in Colombo today, also attended by state minister Dr. Harsha de Silva, officials of state agencies and representatives of the EU.

The minister said that as a result, the export income from primary exports increased to 454 million US dollars in 2017, up 39 percent from the 326 million USD income in 2016.

“This trend clearly indicates that we are on the correct way to achieve the expected exports target of the Government from the primary industry sector amounting to 1.5 billion USD by 2025,” he said.


The text of the minister’s speech:

Good morning everyone,

Dr. Harsha de Silva, the State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs, the delegation of the European Union, Experts attached to the Agriculture Modernization Project, government officials, ladies, and gentlemen.

I am delighted to be with you this morning at the official opening of this very important workshop. First of all, let me express my sincere gratitude to the European Union for providing the necessary financial and technical support to the Government of Sri Lanka for the modernization of the agriculture sector during the coming years.

As you are already aware, the composition of agricultural exports in this country has changed over the last decade. Accordingly, the primary industry sector has become a very important segment in the economy. At present this sector consists of about 25 percent of the total manufacturing units and 15 percent of the total work force in the country. The export earnings from this sector have averaged around Rs. 48 billion per annum for the period from 2012 to 2015.

In 2015, the Ministry of Primary Industry was established to give more priority on the primary industries to achieve a broad based improvement in the export earnings. During the last two years, we have implemented a number of productive programmes to realize the Government objective. As a result, the export income from primary exports has increased to Rs. 70 billion or US $ 454 million in 2017. This records a tremendous growth of 39 percent compared to US $326 million in 2016. This trend clearly indicates that we are on the correct way to achieve the expected exports target of the Government from the primary industry sector amounting to US $ 1.5 billion by 2025.

However, I have to say that the Sri Lankan manufactures in the sector are still working with various difficulties. In my opinion, the high cost of production, outdated technology, low volume of production and product quality, lack of skilled labour, lack of training and insufficient financing facilities are some of them to be mentioned. The government institutions and international agencies need to give the fullest cooperation to device the necessary strategies to overcome these difficulties in an efficient and coordinated manner.

I was made to understand, that this EU project, intends to help the Government of Sri Lanka to promote the export of high value agricultural commodities in future. This objective is planned to be achieved enabling the relevant sectors to work on a better regulatory framework including registration process of companies, system of surveillance and certification, better link to the market through knowledge, public-private partnerships, and adopting better technology. In the meantime, the knowledge and capacities of the staff at central and field levels and farmer organizations will be strengthened. Obviously, I believe that these activities will help to develop the entire agriculture and primary industry sectors in the country generating more income and employment.

I wish a very productive workshop.

Thank you very much