PLANTATIONS INDUSTRY 2022
by Lalin I De Silva, Editor, The Ceylon Planters’ Society Bulletin.
It’s a known trend that the New Year 2022 is going to be full of significant challenges to the entire world. The economic situation of Sri Lanka too could be badly hit. However, we as Ceylon Planters Society (CPS) see greater opportunities within the industry to achieve its full potential. The CPS has always maintained that the Plantations Industry can generate 10 B USD per year in an economy of 80 B USD of Sri Lanka. We have no time to waste by being complacent and pat on our back although the plantations industry has done much better in 2021 under trying conditions.
The aim of this article is to discuss where we are today, where we should go and how to get there. As a nation, we have never failed to plan but sadly plan to fail since gaining independence in 1948.
|Plantation crop type||Potential||Sri Lankan performances||Source|
|Tea||4000 YPH||1375 YPH||TRI|
|Rubber||2000 YPH||648 YPH||RDD|
|Coconuts||80 nuts per palm per annum||55 nuts per palm per annum||CRI|
|The coconut oil yield||0.8 MT||0.8 MT /hectare||CRI|
|Cinnamon||1200 Kg / Hectare||600 Kg/ Hectare||CRI|
|Oil Palm||35000||12000 FFB||Industry|
|Palm oil yield||4 MT / Hectare of oil||2.5 MT / Hectare oil||Industry|
The Plantations industry of Sri Lanka is more than 150 years old. Sadly, the Planters are still to be recognized as a group of professionals in Sri Lanka. Everyone loves to speak of the golden era of the industry but sadly no one wants to do anything to reverse the trend. Could this be due to the lack of strategic managerial competencies we lost after the nationalization of estates in 1974? Today the industry is incapable of attracting better talent due to multiple reasons that includes selfish agendas and poor quality of leadership.
The following is a simple (snapshot) attempt to identify Strengths and Weaknesses of the industry (S& W) at present. The S & W must be used to bridge the gap to reach the desired state as shown in chart: A, above.
The CPS being the only organization managed by the working Planters, we are looking forward to supporting any national intervention to keep a Giant Leap Forward. Problems lead to opportunities. The biggest asset of a plantation is the land mass. Planters got to look after the land, enrich the soils and preserve the water resources. Times have changed and it’s the Planter who must lend a hand to uplift the workforce.
- The capabilities of the Ministers in charge and the supportive Ministry and Departmental Officials / Scientists.
- The industry is blessed with competent Planters and a group of retired Planters who can bloom under supportive leadership – Planters never retire.
- Only pandemic friendly large scale commercial Agribusiness where the entire staff are residing on the Plantation
- Strategically located to closer seaports and airports.
- Ably supported with crop research institutes, Authorities, Departments for extension activities and a fully-fledged training school (NIPM)
- The PHDT – a dedicated & adequately staffed institute with its regional offices in plantation districts to look after health and welfare aspects of the workforce
- A skilled workforce and abundance of availability of labor
- Supportive Trade Unions
- Conducive environmental factors to cultivate any crop
- Global certifications such as FSC, ISO etc.
- Comparative advantages such as Ceylon brand
- Selective harvesting methods
- Weak political will and skill – following of the easy path of resistance. Showing a preference for votes against sustainable performances.
- Not using HRM concepts in managing employees
- Less innovation and IoT / digital initiatives
- Lack of competitive strength in managing growth
- Not identifying the industry-wide skill sets and not looking at improving them innovatively. Stagnant business processes.
- Not having an appropriate business model to generate a minimum of 500,000 profit per hectare each year.
- Own known vulnerabilities such as changes in the PESTEL factors
- Unpreparedness to embrace climate change
- Pressures from regional politicians and Tus
- Cash flows mismanaged
- Failing to address value chain and supply chains
- Not addressing land productivities proactively
- Not investing on employees to develop them objectively
- Distractions due to health issues
- Absence of data-driven decision-making culture
- Weak predictability due to outdated industry practices
- Mismanagement of growth
- Poor leadership
- Not being futuristic
It’s the responsibility of every stakeholder of the industry to support the industry. If the industry fails, it will have an irreversible disastrous impact on the Sri Lankan economy. The CPS can only blow the whistle. 10 B USD annual revenue is our ambitious goal.
News from the Headquarters
Lalin I De Silva, Secretary General
Meeting with CEO, Elpitiya Plantations Limited & the Chairman of The Planters’ Association 01/11/2021
A delegation from the Society met with Mr Bhathiya Bulumulla, Chief Executive Officer of Elpitiya Plantations Limited on aforesaid said day and discussed the possibility of resolving the violence in the upcountry and certain disputes pertaining to our members and the Society.
The Ceylon Planters Society extends to Mr Bulumulla its sincere thanks and deep appreciation for affording an opportunity to place before him our grievances and also for readily listening to us to resolve all the matters addressed.
Meeting with CEO, Maskeliya Plantations Limited, 10/11/2021
The Ceylon Planters Society had a very cordial and fruitful meeting with Mr Kamal Punchihewa and it was a very successful meeting in an endeavor to resolve the ongoing dispute of Mr G N Hordagoda, Superintendent, Mousakellie Estate. However, the Member is not in agreement with the Terms of Settlement spelled out by the Company, is continuing with the case he has instituted against the Company.
The Ceylon Planters Society wishes to place its sincere thanks to Mr Punchihewa for accommodating the Society delegation in spite of his numerous other appointments.
Meeting with CEO, Namunukula Plantations PLC, 10/11/2021
We paid a courtesy call to Mr Prince Gunasekara, who is an ardent supporter of the Ceylon Planters society being a former Regional Chairman and we had a very fruitful discussion. Mr Gunasekara ensured that he will help us to promote our membership drive within his territory. Further, he agreed to sort out if we have any issues with his company and the delegation thanked him very sincerely for accommodating us in spite of his other engagements.
Meeting with CEO, Kahawatte Plantations Limited, 30/11/2021
The Ceylon Planters Society had a very cordial and fruitful meeting with Dr Dan Seevaratnam who is not a stranger to the Ceylon Planters Society and it was a very successful meeting as all aspects of the Society’s relationship were discussed. Meetings of this nature would bring about a close cordial relationship. Further, the advices he gave us, not only very positive but also in a deserving manner in which he addressed our representation. He also assured favorably regarding our request on behalf of our Member, Mr Gayakantha Weerasekara, former Superintendent, Endana Estate, Kahawatte.
The Ceylon Planters Society is grateful for allocating and accommodating the Society’s delegation in spite of his busy schedule.
Meeting with the Hon. Minister of Plantations and the Hon. Minister of Labor
The Society is hoping to meet the above two honorable Ministers to discuss certain issues the Members and the Industries are facing at the moment in due course and the Members will be informed thereafter.
Over to you Mr Treasurer
Mr Uditha Tennakoon agreed to continue as the Treasurer and the Executive Committee of the Ceylon Planters’ Society unanimously accepted and approved his appointment. On behalf of the Membership, we take this opportunity to congratulate him and wish him all the very best and all success in his future endeavors.
Thank you Mr Malcolm Dias
On behalf of the President, the Executive Committee Members and the entire Membership, I sincerely thank Mr Malcolm Dias for the hard work he put in.
He is a very senior Planter and a Member of the Ceylon Planters’ Society for a long time. We wish Mr & Mrs Dias and their family the very best in all their future endeavors.
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
Please assist me to bring out a high quality ‘Bulletin’ worthy of the Profession it represents. But, this cannot be achieved without the participation of all Members.
We welcome letters, articles, poems etc. The Bulletin assumes no responsibility for statements and opinions expressed by the Contributors.
Please obtain advertisement insertion in the Bulleting. This is vital as we cannot meet the ever-increasing cost of paper and printing without the assistance of the advertisers.
Planters’ wives are kindly requested to send their recipes, if any, for publication in the bulletin.
WE MAKE A LIVING BY WHAT WE EARN
WE MAKE A LIFE BY WHAT WE GIVE!
Achievements of the Ceylon Planters’ Society
By Editor, CPS Bulletin
I write to place on record some of the achievements the Society was able to achieve during the stewardship of Mr Dayal Kumarage, President of The Ceylon Planters’ Society during the year 2021.
One of the most critical issues affecting the industry and our profession is the incidents of the violence on plantations. We expressed our deep concern over the state of violence that erupted in the upcountry areas which brought untold misery, loss and damage. Maintenance of peace fell on the shoulders of our Members, who relentlessly worked towards appeasement by staking life and limbs.
We had number of discussions with the Authorities concerned but no remedial solution was found yet. In the process of finding solutions to our Members, we never lost sight of the interest of the Industry. We have stringently stuck to our original objective of not only ensuring the well-being of our Members but also enduring to assure our obligations towards the employers. We never resorted to direct trade union action other than showing our solidarity by way of organizing a massive demonstration in Hatton. The Society held many media conferences to highlight the grievances and issues we were facing. We thank everyone who participated and supported us to make this event a success including the Media and the Police as well.
In the backdrop of violence, intimidation and threats, we take pride in stressing the fact that in spite of everything, our Members continued to remain on the estates in charge of their duties in a true spirit of patriotism and dedication to the obligations of National duty. We salute our Members for performing the civic duties with a view to abate the violence and protect their estates. Our Members shouldered the task of being watchdogs of the life and property of the estates.
The President and the Society had already looked into the other issues such as the fertilizer problem, the ban of chemical fertilizers, weedicide and fungiside which has directly affected with the earnings of the workers. MINIMUM WAGES – the plantation sector workers struggle for a minimum daily wage of rupees thousand which was perhaps the most discussed topic about the industry in the recent past. We need to be mindful to make sure that the sustainability of the industry is assured while negotiating this matter so that we would not end up with an unintended outcome, which may be detrimental to both parties.
At the same time, the rubber industry is also facing two major challenges according to some experts on the industry. These are the scarcity of fertilizer and a fast spreading new leaf disease affecting the rubber plantations. Due to the fertilizer import ban, the industry expects a 20% drop in production by next year and this adverse impact will continue to increase over the years. Since there are many issues and challenges facing the rubber industry, attention must be given considering both its potential as a foreign exchange earner as well as uplifting the livelihoods of the people including the workers.
In regard to all the above matters, the Society is expected to meet the Hon. Ministers of Plantation Industry and Labor in due course.
The biggest achievement was safeguarding and obtaining the Title of Registration (Bim Saviya) of The Ceylon Planters’ Society Headquarters after facing many difficulties and battling with many adversaries. Hats off to The President and those who stood with him!
News in Brief
Lalin I De Silva, Secretary General
85th Annual General Meeting
The 85th Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on the 30th of October 2021 at Burgher Recreation Club (BRC) and the Chairman Pro-Tem was the former President, Mr Neville Athukorala and this was the first instance an Annual General Meeting was held virtually.
The Society wishes to place on record their sincere appreciation for Mr Athukorala’s participation and the valuable advices given to us.
The President and the Executive Committee Members apologize if any inconvenience caused to our members while attending via Zoom, especially in regard to the sound system. And also regret that we could not have this function as in the past due to the prevailing pandemic situation in the country.
On behalf of the President, I would like to thank the Executive Committee Members and the entire Membership for their participation and the support given to us. Also a special word of thanks goes to Mr Gihan de Livera, Former President of The Ceylon Planters’ Society for all the support and the corporation given and solicits same in future as well.
Are you in Trouble?
Do not rush to Headquarters. Meet your Branch Chairman or the Regional Chairman who will assist and direct you to the Headquarters with the necessary documents if required. Otherwise, they will attend to your problem at Regional level and communicate with the Headquarters.
Change of Addresses
Please notify your change of address promptly to your Branch Chairman, Regional Chairman, or to us without delay in writing.
Members are requested to update their subscriptions and check from their estate/company officers whether the monthly remittances are regularly forwarded to the Society.
Branch and Regional Meetings
The Regional Chairmen are requested to have their meetings as early as possible. Members are requested to attend meetings in their own interest and be free to speak at these meetings. The Society is yours and you have every right to air your views.
CPS Stickers & Ties
Car stickers and Ties will be available soon at the Headquarters for purchasing. Stickers will be sold at Rs 500/- per sticker and Ties will be sold at Rs 1,000/- per tie.
Three double rooms with attached bathrooms are available at the CPS Headquarters. Bed Linen, Towels, Hot, Cold & filtered drinking water, refrigerator, electric iron and a kettle are provided. Daily rate is Rs 1,750/- per room. Please make use of this facility. The Society is in process of fitting air-conditioners to the rooms in the forthcoming season 2022. For reservations, call Ms Yvonne on 0112 715656 during office hours. We also have a ‘steward’ in attendance.
Tribute to late, Mr A R Rajendram
A.R. Rajendram, our Former Secretary, after been for nearly 43 years retired in March 1988.
Anton, as we all call him joined the CPS as a junior member of its staff in 1945 at the age of 21 years. Commander A. K. Halliley was the Secretary and Mr. J. A. Chunchi was the Assistant Secretary. Mr Rajendram entered the state of Holy Matrimony in 1948, and he always referred to it as the most significant in his life. It did not take long to assess his potential and he was appointed as Secretary during the year 1974/1975. He was an example to all the others and taking over the post which was held by illustrious gentlemen from Planting, Service or C.C.S. background. But, Mr. Rajendram through his hard work and untiring effort matched up to them in every way. He faced many challenges without fear or favor. He was straight forward voicing honest opinions and never flattered anyone to be popular and offered constructive criticism where necessary. He was a voracious reader. Anton built up our Society in many ways. The membership from 650, he increased up to 1300 members.
Thank you Mr Rajendram!
He was a simple man who led a simple life with a deep belief in Almighty God. We convey our deepest sympathies to all his family members. I hope with all the happenings today, you are finding peace and solace in eternity elsewhere with the blessings of our Almighty God. We know although you parted early, we will be back together in the Promised Land. Until that day, may the turf lie gently over you.
I say goodbye to our dear friend till we meet again.
May the good Lord bless you and keep your soul at eternal peace