President Gotabaya Rajapaksa revealed his intention to develop Kitul (Fishtail Palms) and Palmyra Palms plantation as main export crops of Sri Lanka in order to open a new avenue of foreign exchange earning, the President’s Media Division said.
The President said this during a discussion to review the future plans of the State Ministry of Coconut, Kitul, Palmyra and Rubber Product Promotion and Allied Industrial Production and Export Diversification at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday.
He pointed out to the officials the requirement of an appropriate procedure to promote Kitul and Palmyra plantations and remove obstacles in the field in order to encourage production.
President advised the officials to take swift steps to establish a separate State Institute for Kitul and strictly enforce the laws prohibiting the cutting down of Palmyra trees.
When the subject of Coconut plantation was first taken up for discussion it was noted that the annual coconut production in the country is at 3 billion nuts and 1.8 billion nuts are used for local consumption. President highlighted the requirement of developing coconut plantations with the aim of increasing exports.
Instructions were given to expedite the plantation of coconut trees in identified lands in a number of areas including the Northern and Eastern provinces.
Abandoned paddy lands identified by the Land Use Policy Planning Department will also be used for this purpose. Head of the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival, Basil Rajapaksa stated that steps should be taken to plant 4 million coconut saplings in 2 million home gardens during September.
The proposal to set a fixed price for Coconuts was also discussed at the meeting. The need for using hybrid seeds for a better production was also discussed. Annual income from rubber exportation is Rs 600 million and strategies have been made to raise the revenue to Rs. 2000 million in 2020. President also suggested to introduce rubber variants and plantation of rubber trees in the slope areas instead of Fines trees.
Basil Rajapaksa highlighted the importance of restricting importation of rubber in order to encourage and strengthen the local rubber producers and rubber plantations.
In addition, he also stressed the requirement of a procedure to import rubber only to meet the demand of the local manufacturers who are engaged in rubber-related products.
Minister Ramesh Pathirana, State Minister Arundika Fernando, Secretary to the President, P.B. Jayasundera, officials attached to both the Ministry and State Ministry and several representatives from plantation and production institutes were present at the meeting.