Sunday Observer PLUS
Govt steps up coconut cultivation
Minister Jagath Pushpakumara
Encouraging people, especially the younger generation on the
importance of replanting coconut trees is the only solution to ease the
A gazette notification, issued by the Government even at this
juncture on the ban of felling coconut trees is also commendable and if
this is strictly monitored, nobody will talk about import of coconuts.
Except for a few people, majority do not plant coconut trees even at
their own home gardens who own acres and acres of lands. The authorities
must take action against them.
In addition, they must also be vigilant on the clearing of valuable
coconut lands by individuals and property development entrepreneurs.
It is reported that over ten thousand acres of coconut lands in
Kurunegala, Pannala and Negombo districts were sold by property
developers for commercial purposes during the past two years.
This is also a crime when thinking of well grown coconut lands being
blocked out for other purposes.
It is the general opinion that the Government must urge Local
Government authorities and Gramaseva Niladaris to keep a close tab on
partitioned coconut lands and also neglected coconut lands in their
Well grown plantation in the Coconut Triangle
Thereafter, they could report to authorities for further action.
Coconut Development and the Janata Estate Development Board (CDJEDB)
Minister Jagath Pushpakumara, in an interview with Sunday Observer said
the Government had taken steps to plant over four million coconut
saplings all over the country under a special program which is to be
launched in January next year.
He said this massive coconut cultivation program will be carried out
with the assistance of Samurdi beneficiaries, Ranaviru families and the
members of village Civil Defence committees.
In addition, schoolchildren from Grade six will be educated on the
importance of planting coconut saplings and protecting existing coconut
Under this program schoolchildren will do coconut cultivations in
their home gardens and also take part in educational programs that are
related to the strengthening of the industry.
"Children who work tirelessly in coconut development programs will be
given scholarships at their GCE (OL) and (AL) examinations," he assured.
Minister Pushpakumara also rejected allegations that the country's
coconut cultivation will be badly affected and coconut growers will get
discouraged due to import of coconuts.
He said the decision to import coconuts was taken by the Government
as a temporary measure to meet the demand during the Christmas and New
Year festival season.
"Although a decision has been taken to import coconuts, we also
monitor the situation whether countrywide coconut growers pledge their
support by supplying required nuts to the market during this week,". The
Minister said that steps would be taken to grant a fertilizer subsidy
next year to large, small and medium scale coconut growers.
"Under this program, even home grown coconut cultivators could obtain
fertilizer at reasonable prices,".
He said in addition, the Government's objective is to protect all
agricultural products including tea, rubber, paddy, vegetable and other
major products by granting fertilizer subsidy.
Minister Pushpakumara also spoke of the Weligama Wilt disease that
resulted the cutting down of a large number of coconut trees during the
past few months and said that steps have already been taken to prevent
the spreading the disease to other areas.
He said, that he directed relevant authorities in the Coconut
Cultivation Board and the Coconut Development Authority to supervise
disease affected trees and take measures to cut down trees without
He said importing of raw coconuts cannot be stopped overnight
according to trade agreements, signed between Sri Lanka and other
countries, but wish to speak to relevant persons in this regard.
Minister Pushpakamara also said the Coconut Cultivation Board is
willing to visit coconut lands or estates to assist growers to pluck the
nuts and buy them.
They can contact the Coconut Cultivation Board office in Colombo on
011286133 for further information.
Withered coconut trees
A senior Coconut Cultivation Board official, Gamini Ekanayaka told
the Sunday Observer that steps have been taken to provide coconuts at Rs.
30 from their stores at Vauxhall Street and opposite Coconut Cultivation
Board to people during the next few days.
He said in addition, 10 lorries have been deployed at Ja-ela, Wattala,
Dematagoda, Colombo and many other areas to distribute coconuts at Rs.
"Coconuts are also distributed through Co-operatives and Lak Sathosa
Meanwhile, Coconut Growers Association (CGA), President Anton
Fernando cautioned authorities to be vigilant on coconuts that are to be
imported, since worldwide coconut plantations have already been affected
by two dangerous diseases, the Weligama Wilt and Asariya Mika.
"There is no shortage of coconuts in the country, authorities must
adopt a correct method to visit estates and collect them at reasonable
prices," he assured.
He said over 1,300 direct members of the CGA and 700,000 coconut
growers are ready to help the Government's endeavour of providing more
coconuts during the forthcoming festive season.