- Forum submits 11-point plan to President Rajapaksa via letter
- Proposed action-plan revolves around the establishment of a National Steering Committee for Agriculture
- It was also proposed to implement a ‘National Agri Enterprise Resource Planning System’, to function as a holistic system under the purview of National Steering Committee
Sri Lanka Agripreneurs’ Forum calls for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s intervention to implement ‘National Agri Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System under a proposed National Steering Committee for agriculture with majority private sector representation to transform the country’s agriculture sector by resolving key growth constraints in the sector.
Sri Lanka Agripreneurs’ Forum Chairman Rizvi Zaheed recently submitted a 11 point plan to President Rajapaksa via a letter, which consist of several urgent measures and action to be implemented under a medium/long term vision to support the sector to get back on its feet.
It was pointed out that the agri sector, which employs over three million people, is highly vulnerable to economic shocks, hence there’s a need for such measures based on a medium/long term vision.
The proposed action-plan mainly revolves around an immediate establishment of a National Steering Committee for Agriculture comprising government officials and private sector representatives, where minimum 60 percent private sector representation is guaranteed.
Zaheed insisted that the proposed committee should be represented by private sector stakeholders such as growers, farmer organizations, agri value-addition enterprises, agri professionals & academics, agri scientists, local and global marketers of agri produce, providers of agri inputs, and local agri investors from diverse segments including livestock and fisheries.
The forum has proposed to implement a “National Agri Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System”, which will function as a holistic system for the entire Sri Lankan agriculture fraternity under the purview of the proposed National Steering Committee for Agriculture.
The proposed system is to be tasked with addressing national demand forecasting and crop/yield planning, ensuring minimum guaranteed price for the farmer, integrating agricultural-value-chain, introducing and integrating performance & contribution based Farmer Pension Scheme as well as channelling existing loan schemes, grants, and subsidies (including fertilizer) through the system to attract and influence farmers.
Further, it is also to act as a conduit between the producers, local wholesale buyers, and exporters.
For an optimal management of agri outputs, it is proposed to upgrade existing storage facilities preferably near the economic centres, and convert them into cool rooms using available resources as well as utilise idling resources.
Zaheed pointed out that the private sector cool room/cold chain operators could be engaged to provide solutions for operating these facilities on lease/PPP terms and to be the nucleus of a cold chain to overcome the wide fluctuations of supplies and prices.
The forum also sought the permission to import the best quality seeds available in the global market noting it would be a pre-requisite to reduce cost of production and increase yield.
Further, it urged State support for local seed, plant propagation and tissue culture laboratories for long term sustainability and food security.
The forum also mooted higher tariffs on imported food items, which compete with local products saying that it would ensure food security while protecting the domestic production and value-chain.
Further, the forum recommended State subsided loan schemes, setting up a system to determine a Guaranteed Minimum Price for agri products and establishing of ‘Agro Innovation Centre’, in Colombo or Gampaha district to boost value-added food products and processed foods for local and export markets.
In order to reduce transport costs, it was urged to allocate one compartment on trains of several railway lines (RL) connecting key agricultural centers for the transportation of agricultural produces.
“On behalf of the Agripreneurs of Sri Lanka, I would appreciate if you would consider the above points, and provide us an opportunity to meet you to discuss practical implementation, and as to how we as a collective group can support the initiatives and measures taken by the government for the transformation of Sri Lanka,” Zaheed stated appealing to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa-led government.