Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake will be the chief guest and deliver the keynote address at the 162nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) on September 15, 2016.
Having served as Plantation Industries Deputy Minister from 2001 – 2004 and built a relationship with those in the industry, Dissanayake has maintained an active and continuous engagement with stakeholder organisations in order to formulate new solutions to the issues faced by the sector since his appointment as Plantation Industries Minister last year.
Founded in 1854 – a full 13 years before the establishment of the first commercial tea plantations in Sri Lanka – the PA has been a vital contributor to the development of Sri Lanka’s plantation sector and the wider national economy for well over one and a half centuries.
Notably, this year’s AGM occurs just prior to the celebration of a truly historic milestone for Sri Lanka’s tea industry, namely the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Ceylon tea by James Taylor at the Loolecondera estate in 1867.
Composed of a membership in excess of 180, including 23 regional plantation companies (RPCs), the PA’s membership manages approximately 40 percent of the country’s tea, rubber, palm oil and coconut lands, in addition to the management of 332 factories. The sector directly employs nearly 200,000 individuals and when combined with indirect employment, is estimated to provide a livelihood of over one million Sri Lankans across the island.
Among its affiliate bodies, the District Planters’ Associations too have played an important role in supporting development of plantation executives conducting regular meetings with eminent guest speakers, particularly in terms of events focused on personal development.
From its inception, the PA has been at the forefront of numerous vital initiatives relating to the development of the country’s plantation industry – from contributing approximately one-fourth of the cost of constructing Sri Lanka’s hill-country railway systems in 1857 through the imposition of a voluntary cess to similar measures that led to the country’s first-ever tea promotion campaign in 1894 in addition to playing a leading role in the establishment of the Tea Research Institute of Ceylon in 1925.
The association has also played a crucial role in terms of generating an improved understanding of the present spectrum of challenges and opportunities faced by the Sri Lankan plantation industry including issues related to wages, productivity and pertinent agricultural practices and policies and their impact on the industry and its large group of stakeholders.