The National Agribusiness Council (NAC) on Wednesday unveiled a ten year strategy plan detailing collaborateive measures for both the government and private sector to increase their contribution to the agri-business sector.
This included proposals for the government to set up a National agri business branding committee and a fund to promote Sri Lankan agriculture in the regional and global market.
“Encourage cleaner and safer production is specially important for export oriented agro products .This is an essential precursor to branding Sri Lankan agro produce for global high-end niche markets” NAC Chairman Mario de Alwis said unveiling a ten year strategic plan for NAC.
Increasing the reach of the national agribusiness network, to include 16 key districts which are not currently included is also seen as an urgent priority.
“Despite the large revenue brought in by the agri-economy almost 16 districts need a proper agriculture network in place. This will help to increase the agri products and farmers could be more export oriented,” he added.
The new 10 year strategic plan aims to create a competitive and self sustained agribusiness community by year 2015 and includes suggestions on to agricultural infrastructure development and suggestions to improve the national policy for food security in the country.
Highlighting the urgent need for infrastructure development, specially in the transportation sector Mr. Alwis said that “today post harvest losses exceed 40%, mainly due to lack of packaging technology and transportation mishaps.” He suggested that transportation via the railway system was a cost effective alternative that should be explored in measures to reduce post harvest losses.
In the plan also focuses on means to develop local markets for home grown and processed products. According to Mr. Alwis this would help local producers to get a premium for their produce.
Mr. Alwis also highlighted that NAC will soon launch a web site to provide real-time information on all current market prices and demand information related to agri business.
He also emphasised the importance of government accepting the private sector as a development partner.
The plan also proposes the following short term measures to reduce the key problems plaguing the agriculture sector. The income tax exemption should be conducive for small medium Estate sector as well. It suggests that recognised CSR projects in focused sectors should be fully tax deductible. Also the regional development projects to be partnered and managed by private sector on a pilot basis.
Mr. Alwis also said that there is a high demand for organic agri products specially from European countries and also Japan. He address the importance of motivating farmers to use less artificial chemicals and imported fertilizer. He said that encouraging the farmers on organic farming will pave way to make farmers independent and also government can use the funds spent on providing subsidies for imported fertilizer to enhance farming communities for better living standards.
The National Agribusiness Council was formed in year 2000. It consist of 23 organizations and the total indirect membership is 2300 with corporate entities, partnerships, and individuals etc. It has reached up to 300,000 persons,in numbers.