The 80th anniversary of the Ceylon Planters’ Society (CPS) is awaited with a measure of anticipation and the day falls on September 5, 2016 under the patronage of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake and Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka as the guest of honour at Galadari Hotel, commencing at 3:30 p.m. The CPS considers this to be a ‘landmark’ event in its long and solid history. The CPS has invited many distinguished guests to grace this occasion.
Eighty years in the life of an organisation is no mere bagatelle. It represents eight decades of service to its distinguished membership. The CPS is not without problems. Thirty years ago, the membership strength was at its peak and the depletion in numbers is attributable to the mass exodus of planters in the last two decades. In some years, over 100 planters took early retirement. However, recovery is now underway and it would not be long before the robust image of the CPS is re-established.
The plantation sector in Sri Lanka has a long history in the economic growth of the country. It remains as one of the major contributors to the economy, having one of the largest workforces and making a substantial contribution to government revenue. The government should understand the importance of the plantation sector in national development and give considerable benefits to its further expansion and development of this vital area of the national economy.
The future holds many challenges as well as opportunities for the plantation sector. Agricultural and technological advances, new methods of processing and product development, high cost of inputs and low prices for the produce and increasing competition in the global market will present a testing time for the industry. In meeting these challenges, there is a need for value addition to the products of the plantation sector.
The Sri Lankan economy relies heavily on the tea sector and the high cost of production as a result of low land and labour productivity is a burning issue in the tea industry. Furthermore, the socio-economic and technological problems of the industry need special attention by the researchers and policymakers of the country. It is therefore an urgent requirement of the industry in finding out the appropriate measures to reverse this situation.
Human resource development (HRD) is a major factor in the productivity improvement of the estates and it has to be looked into very seriously. I have mentioned a number of measures that needed to be taken by the plantation industry if the estates were to be run at a profit.
“Many thought that our articles had an anti-personnel flavour. That was not so. We simply analysed the existing situation in the plantation industry and cautioned the relevant authorities providing solutions.”
Looking back into the years of history and taking into account the obstacles faced by society and even facing at the moment, there is no doubt that much headway has been made. The society has contributed much to the working planter, the industry and to the prosperity of the country.
And at the same time, the planters and the staff have served the CPS in many ways, often unnoticed. We need to acknowledge their contribution and say a big THANK YOU when we celebrate this 80th anniversary and should not forget the services rendered by the former secretary A.R. Rajendram for nearly 43 years out of the 80 years.
I express my good wishes to the Ceylon Planters’ Society on its 80th anniversary and wish the society to go on from strength to strength.
(Lalin I. De Silva is former Editor, Ceylon Planters Society, Bulletin)