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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. 

Monday, October 10, 2005

Estate poverty needs urgent attention - Tittawella

Daily News: 04/10/2005" by Hiran H. Senewiratne

The level of poverty and quality of life in the plantation sector has significantly improved during the last few years but need to develop further to retain labour in the sector, Chairman-Taskforce to Rebuilding Nation (TAFRN) and Presidential Adviser Mano Tittawella said.

The entire plantation sector will be in a crisis if we do not eliminate estate poverty and housing problem in the sector within next few years, Tittawella said at the Annual General Meeting of the Plantation Human Development Trust (PHDT) last week.

He said that exodus of estate labour is one of the major problems due to poor housing and sanitary conditions in the sector, which is a major problem, the plantation sector has encountered with.

"It is not fair for plantation companies to spend money on poverty alleviation programmes. We need to obtain donor support to improve the sustainability of the plantation sector," Tittawella said.

He said that estate labour wages should continue to increase to attract and retain this labour force in the sector in the country. The community rehabilitation programmes have to be increased for the purpose of the set objective, he said.

Tittawella said today new tea producing countries are emerging and produce at a lesser cost which would affect the entire sector in time to come.

'With the exodus of labour from the plantation sector we will not be able to be competitive in the global market',he said.

To improve the viability of the sector, regional plantation companies have not fully utilised lands in plantation or housing. He said that those un-used lands could be utilised for estate housing programmes.

Tittawella said that tea smallhoders account for more than 65 per cent of the total tea production in the country which needs to be improved to increase their productivity. Big estates produce lesser tea for the sector, he said.

PHDT Chairman in his review stated that last year Plantation Development Support Programme was Funded by the Government's of Netherlands and Norway. Early child care development and life skill projects were supported by UNICEF and the Child Labour Prevention Program supported by ILO/IPEC were the main programmes implemented by the PHDT.

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