A renowned team from Switzerland who are widely regarded as experts on organic agriculture met with Minister of Plantation Hon Dr. Ramesh Pathirana and Secretary to the Ministry of Plantation Mr. Ravindra Hewavitharana on 06th August. During the meeting, the Minister shared the country’s vision for the plantation sector and the approach and measures taken to embrace the organic fertilizer challenge.
The Minister raised many interactive questions during this knowledge-sharing session whilst the team also shared key challenges on embracing an organic ecosystem and ways on overcoming them especially highlighting plantation crops which accounts for a significant percentage of the country’s economy, exports and labor. The Deputy Director- Research Production and Nematologist of Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka (TRI), Keerthi M. Mohotti also participated during the session.
Earlier on that day, the experts had virtual meetings via Zoom with Hon. Dr. Seetha Arambepola, State Minister of Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research and Innovation along with Prof. Ranjith De Silva, Acting Director/CEO of NIFS and Senior Professor in Agricultural Engineering at the Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Peradeniya.
The state minister and Prof. Silva shared insightful presentations on their vision and how training and related activities need to be focused during the conversion from a conventional to an organic agriculture approach including why the government has taken timely decisions on this much needed conversion.
The experts also held discussions with Secretary to the State Ministry of Promoting the Production and Regulating the Supply of Organic Fertilizer Mr. M N Ranasinghe, and Additional Secretary Mr. Mahesh Gammanpila. The officials briefed on the policies and strategy that is being implemented including how numerous development initiatives are already in progress especially in view of the upcoming Maha season, paving the path to successfully achieve a healthy nation under its ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ national policy framework.
They also met with the local EU representative and agriculturist Chandana Hewawasam including officials from GIZ Sri Lanka (German Agency for International Cooperation), and Deputy Ambassador of the Embassy of Switzerland in Sri Lanka.
The team of experts are from Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL) and contracted by A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd (Baurs) for a 10-day visit with diverse interactions to study the country’s entire agriculture landscape and the transition towards adopting a strategic and scientific approach to embrace an organic agroecosystem.