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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Friday, September 23, 2005

Call to make agriculture sector more attractive

Sunday Observer: 18/09/2005" by Gamini Warushamana

The agricultural sector should be modernised to increase income and make the sector more attractive for the new generation, experts say analysing recent findings of a survey.

The agricultural sector is backward compared to other sectors and less than one percent of young people take to agriculture.

The agricultural sector share to the GDP is 18% compared to the service sector which is 56% and industries 26%.

The average monthly income of housholds in the agricultural sector is Rs.4,449 and is less than half of the service sector income (Rs.9,846) and only 60% of the industrial sector income (Rs.7,313). The underemployment rate in the agricultural sector is also the highest in all three sectors and stood at 33% compared to 18% in service and 20% in industries.

The employment share in the agricultural sector is 33% compared to 41% in the service and 26% in industries.

The final report of the eighth Consumer Finance and Socio Economic Survey of the Central Bank (CB) published last week highlighted the trends in many fields of the socio economic development in the country.

The urban rural disparity contribution to the economy is also highlighted in the survey findings. All other provinces are far behind the Western Province (WP) and the Uva Province (UP) is the most backward in terms of the share of GDP, employment, underemployment and the average household monthly income. WP share to the GDP is 45% while in other provinces it is 3-10% and UP 4%. WP contributes 28% to employment while other provinces contribute 2-13% and UP 7%.

The underemployment in UP is the highest and stood at 24%, while it is 16% in WP and other provinces 19-29%. The average houshold's monthly income of WP is Rs.25,602, more than double that of the UP (Rs. 11,178) and in the other provinces it is Rs.11,178-Rs.15,792.

The hard facts of demographic information revealed by the National Census in 2001 have been reflected again by the survey report. The population is aging and the number of problems as well as new opportunities in business are emerging through these developments.

Policy makers should take into account the demographic information and find ways and means to deal with the high dependence rate in the future. Opportunities are available in new retirement schemes, adults accounts and adult care, said Dr. Anila Dias Bandaranayake presenting the survey report. In all sectors over 50% of households are spending money on tuition or private education. The second largest expenditure component of households is education and is only second to food.

The higher expenditure on education emphasises the need to ensure the quality of the public education system.

In the health care sector too the trend to seek private services is on the increase, the survey revealed. Dr. Bandaranayake said that poor communities in urban areas have options and non urban sectors too need them.

The quality of state health services should improve and preventive health care optimised.

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