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|Ways to curb soaring coconut
The price of a coconut which is now sold at a price of
approximately Rs.55/- or above is perhaps the highest amount paid to
purchase a coconut in the annals of our history. The coconut is an
indispensable item in the preparation of our staple diet. This
unusual price hike has contributed immensely to the cost of living
of the low income earning population in particular. The price
increase to such unprecedented heights has been owing to several
With the increase in population naturally demand for coconut also
increases accordingly and hence in relation the coconut harvest too
should increase in order to keep the price static. Although to
achieve this instead of increasing the number of coconut trees,
healthy trees in large numbers are destroyed with the construction
of large factories, buildings with massive housing projects. Apart
from these projects many individuals who build new dwelling houses
have no other alternative but to chop down the productive coconut
trees in the sites. A number of healthy coconut trees are felled
when electric high tension power wires are drawn across coconut
lands and along main roads. Although this is a dire need for
development, the numbers destroyed during these activities need to
The coconut smallholders confront drastic transport difficulties to
reach the proper market. Instead, the wholesale merchants appoint
their middlemen to visit the cultivators to purchase their crops at
low prices and sell to the market keeping a large margin which, in
turn, makes the price to increase as the demand exceeds the supply.
The government authorities should intervene in this exercise.
It has been revealed by the Coconut Research Institute in Sri Lanka,
that the coconut tree is perhaps the most valuable tree in the
world. This gigantic tree grown in mostly tropical countries, which
mainly produces coconuts, is used in the production of over 200
different useful consumer by-products as well. However, growing
coconut trees as a mono crop is very uneconomical due to various
reasons. The subsequent steps are needed to be followed,
• Irrigate the coconut trees when the ground water level drops below
six feet from the surface. This applies to sandy soil otherwise it
should be done at about five feet. The application of irrigation
also depends on the height of the trees, as taller trees needs more
energy to draw water up to the crown, and should be done before the
water levels drop below six feet.
• Growing intercrops in between the coconut plantation.
• Utilising available land, for animal husbandry
To carry out the above operations, the cultivators must have human
resources and infrastructure facilities like availability of
sufficient water, electricity and a proper irrigation system, farm
equipment and farm machinery. To increase the profitability, it is
necessary to have electrically operated coconut husking machines and
small scale coconut oil expeller machines. The government should
encourage the academic staff with the assistance of university
students to venture and undertake to develop such machinery.
Electricity plays a pivotal role to enhance productivity.
Intercropping could increase the profitability of the land. In this
regard human resources, farm machinery, water and electricity are
the key factors. Except electricity, other three resources could be
easily obtained by the cultivators. It is the governments’ bounded
duty to supply electricity.
There are many coconut small holders in the North Western Province
in particular and other provinces devoid of electricity to enhance
productivity. The Norochchlai power plant could provide the required
electricity for many coconut cultivators predominantly cultivating
around the area. By giving power to these agricultural lands would,
no doubt, enhance productivity which is a very valuable and would be
a direct investment profitable to the country.
As the above facts are stubborn and very obvious, if the cultivators
do not get the desired benefits, by the related authorities, all
coconut smallholders would, in the future, firmly intend to
cultivate cashew trees and other fruit bearing trees in the vacant
spaces which will be created by the dead and the unproductive
coconut trees in order to cover losses, instead of thinking of
replanting. Hence, the present dire need is to appoint well versed
government administrators to the coconut plantation industry to
monitor and provide all required infrastructure facilities. For
remedial measures, providing electricity is most vital to commence
the use of submersible pumps for water, (to replace deep wells)
electrically operated husking machines and small scale coconut
expeller machines. If these are adhered to, there will be a drastic
increase in coconut crops which, in turn, would reduce the price of
coconuts as the supply will become very close to the colossal
|Nostalgia for past cowboy
We look back with fondness and nostalgia with
lingering thoughts of the scenes of horse-riding cowboys with
muskets, rifles and other arms in very colourful scenes of
sun-setting in the cowboy films that we have seen at various theatre
halls some decades back.
Some of the memorable films that I have seen are Three Musketeers,
Man in the Iron Mask, Coscican Brothers, Beauogeater, King Solomon’s
Mines, and The Magnificent Seven. Other interesting films that I can
remember are James Bond films and Relic Hunter and not to mention
the films like the Red Indian and the Whites Confrontations.
A few of the actors that I can remember at this distant time are
Tyroll Power (Coscican Brothers) Gary Cooper (Beauogester), Chuck
Norris, Burt Lancaster, Randoff Scott and Tia Career.
These films are well shot and are perfect at all levels as Hollywood
is one of the pioneering film production locations. These films gave
us septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenarians a thrilling time
which still linger in our minds with pleasure.
I think the copies of these films could be obtained from the
American Embassy and the British High Commission which should be
available in their archives.
Mahinda Chinthana has done everything possible to lead us a happy
and contended life in the evening of our lives. Hope the Rupavahini
Corporation and other TV channels will do the needful to make us,
the senior citizens, see these films once again.
V K B Ramanayake
|Beware investors may get
At last Thursday’s evening presentation
at the Centre for Banking Studies on “Taming the Beast in the Forest
– Experiences from the Finance Companies” by Ms. Nelumani Daulagala,
Director, Department of Supervision of Non-Bank Financial
Institutions, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, when I posed the
question to the learned members of the “Discussion Panel” as to
whether the companies inviting investments for tree plantation are
registered and monitored by the CBSL, P Samarasiri (Assistant
Governor – Central Bank of Sri Lanka) in his response said that
these are not registered with the Central Bank and that these
companies are only governed by the Companies Act.
I am of the opinion that either the public should be specifically
informed that these companies are not registered with the CBSL and
therefore, these are very high risk investments. The better option
is to get these under purview of the CBSL so that public money is
not swindled. I suggest that Nivard Cabraal, Governor of CBSL
promulgates new legislation or amend existing finance/monetary
regulations to be able to monitor these organisations before the
investors get “Golden Keyed”! Over to the Governor to take suitable
remedial action to safeguard the investment of the gullible public.
|Collapsing bridge a danger
The concrete joint-bridge constructed a few years back over
Dummalamodera rivulet near the cemetery of Bandariyawaththa in
Payagala South is on the verge of collapse at any moment now.
This dilapidated narrow bridge is slanting to a side so that one has
to be very cautious when crossing.
This precarious state of the bridge has been pointed out many times
by the public to the relevant authorities but they say there is
still no favourable response.
C M Kamburawala
|Solving visa issue commended
Congratulations to the government on its decision finally to bring
in the requirement of visas for all countries that demand visas from
us Sri Lankans. This is a matter that has been receiving attention
of almost every government but none had the guts to take a decision
The Tourist Industry has been whining ever since the industry was
set up in the 60s almost all the time expecting governments to
support it. When they make enough money, they go quiet but when they
get affected they seek ‘bail out’ packages. If it cannot sell the
country, (like hundreds of other countries do) it doesn’t deserve to
be in the industry at all.
Proper marketing can overcome many obstacles but our Tourist
Industry has been lulled into a comfort zone by falling back on
governments to assist it all the time, whereas in other countries,
the private sector has to look after itself. If the Tourist Industry
objects to visas being demanded of foreigners arriving here, it is
only displaying the lack of respect that it has for our nation and
for her people.
The late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was one of those who
vehemently objected to the manner in which Sri Lankans were handled
at Visa Offices of foreign embassies and was also in favour of
imposing reciprocal systems.
Unfortunately, this same tourist industry sharks lobbied with the
powers that be and stalked such moves.
I would like to extend my congratulations to the President and the
authorities behind this move not only for the bold steps its taking
but also for displaying some self-respect.
R de Silva
Bishop Lakshman Wickremesinghe
Tribute to ‘Bishop of the
On October 23 we will keep yet another annual remembrance of the
passing away of Bishop Lakshman who died in 1983.
I had the privilege of knowing the Bishop for 25 years from the time
I was a student in Kandy till he died as the Bishop in Kurunegala.
It is perhaps the time that those of us, who knew him well, get
together and write about him. What so far has been done is persons
publishing his papers.
So in this tribute, it is the stories of the Bishop of the People
that I shall share.
When I first met him as a student in Kandy, it was when he as the
then Sri Lanka National Christian Council University Chaplain at
Peradeniya was invited by our Chaplain at Trinity to do a Bible
Study for the Trinity College Student Christian Movement. That night
I in some ways discovered the then Fr. Lakshman. He wanted one of us
to read that passage he was going to discuss with us. Since there
were no volunteers, in his typical Lakshman Wickremesinghe style
stated that since there were no volunteers to read the Secretary of
our unit which happened to be myself should read the said passage,
which I did. So, after the meeting he had a long conversation with
me and from that night for 25 years he was my mentor.
At Peradeniya, the fire that was kindled that night at Trinity
continued to burn. One morning after the regular Sunday Service he
invited me to his study to tell me that I should think seriously
about ordination. Thus began the struggle to make up my mind to be
Since he was against the concept of Christians entering into
marriage with persons from other Faiths, no Faiths, and ideologies,
he persuaded me not to accept the invitation to be the President of
the Peradeniya University Student Christian Movement since at that
time the person whom I married later was not a Christian. However,
when he had to move from Peradeniya to Kurunegala as the Bishop of
that Diocese, he asked me to look after the small group of persons
whom he had invited for study and reflection.
It was when I listened to his sermon in Jaffna in 1963 at the
Student Christian Movement Annual Conference that I decided to seek
ordination in the Diocese of Kurunegala.
My decision to get ordained and to do that in Kurunegala did not
make persons in my circle happy. However, looking back I am glad
that from 1963 till I had to leave the Diocese in 1989 I was trained
by Bishop Lakshman and even after his death spend a few years in
that Diocese when I was compelled to leave Kurunegala for personal
The training that Bishop Lakshman gave me and what that Diocese
offered me I would have never ever got from anybody else or any
other place. For that I will be eternally grateful to Bishop
Lakshman and that Diocese.
July 1983 was a turning point in Bishop Lakshman’s life. He was a
very sick man and was in Birmingham on study leave from where he
kept in touch with some of us.
In one of his many letters from Birmingham he wrote, “I will be
eternally thankful to our God for I have lived long enough to see
your friendship that began in Peradeniya become a successful
Against Doctor’s orders Bishop Lakshman returned to Sri Lanka,
visited every Tamil home in the Diocese of Kurunegala, went to
Jaffna met with friends, went to Singapore for a conference and at
the Council of that year in Kurunegala in September he delivered his
last Charge, now known as the Lakshman Wickremesinghe Manifesto. In
that Charge, he said amongst others that he was one of those who
tried under God to solve our national problem and was unable to
In the backdrop of his death, one must not forget his courage to
visit Jaffna when under political patronage the Jaffna Library was
burnt. This happened against all advice of the government of the
Just before he died I was one of those invited to meet him in
private at the Joseph Frazer Nursing Home where he died. What he
shared with me that morning must await another time and another
Bishop Lakshman in his last visit to England speaking at his College
Chapel in Oxford on All Saints’ Day stated that to his mind Guatama
Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi must be remembered amongst the Saints.
While being on study leave in England on a short visit to the island
he invited some of us to workout what he called the spirituality for
our times. Those of us who want to remember Bishop Lakshman this
year and always must continue to seek and search for a meaningful
and relevant inner life and have the spirituality that will enable
us to combat the evil of our time. We shall always remember Bishop
Lakshman with love and gratitude.
May his soul rest in peace and rise in glory! Amen.
was not tired of serving humanity
He was simply YW to us - who never inappropriately exhibited
glory (Yasasa) or valour (Weerawickrema), but who was
extraordinarily rich in principles and accomplished in qualities,
and brave to fight for the right and truth.
Those who paid last respects to YW at his residence and Kanatte
would have had many detailed memories of a Teacher, Assistant
Government Agent, Government Agent, Additional Secretary to the
President, a pious and religious individual, social worker and even
an agriculturist; the latter known less. It is not surprising when
reminiscing the cross-section - i.e. priests, public officers,
academics, professionals, politicians, villagers, local level
officers, retirees, relations, literary figures, friends, neighbours,
etc - of those who participated to pay their last respects to YW.
We knew him first as an entrant to the University from Wanduramba
Central College. As we got to know him more, above all, we found YW
to be the principled gentleman he was; very sensitive and committed
to whatever he did, for which he had no half way disposals. As a
public servant he was bound by Administrative Regulations, Financial
Regulations and circulars; but not when serving the society he chose
I remember YW serving in Galle, later reconstructing the
cyclone-affected Ampara District as Government Agent, initiating
development of Deeghavapi Sacred Area (Pooja Bhoomi) and later as
Additional Secretary to President R Premadasa, and serving as
President of Dharma Vijaya Foundation. His was a versatile career.
As Minister P. Dayaratne said at the funeral oration some activities
he and YW initiated will suffer from the void created by YW’s
absence, because only he knew how to handle some of the complex
sensitive issues. I believe he was practising Buddhist values in his
actions. He may have accrued such talent as a genuine public
servant, religious influence he was exposed to, empathy that he
cultivated and human relations he developed. His commitment to a
cause prepared him to utilise all these to serve humanity to its
His latest commitment to assist undergraduates from Peradeniya
Campus was a hallmark attempt when celebrating Pera-60,
commemorating our university entry in 1960. He personally handled
and took pains to select undergraduates who required financial
assistance for their education, which involved a large searching
exercise, analyzing, finalising, coordinating with university
authorities, donors, undergraduates, etc. He tirelessly worked to
find the best qualified without any narrow inhibitions, which earned
kudos from his friends in Pera-60 and university authorities. He was
meticulous to such an extent we are yet to hear any criticism of how
he operated. The best reflection was that neither the recipients nor
Pera–60 members knew his total contribution to this project. YW, the
silent social worker was exemplary.
For Pera-60 he undertook collecting books from authors of
1960-Peradeniya batch and was keen in handing them over to the
University Library the day after our celebrations, which could not
be achieved due to logistical constraints. He was a bit frustrated
but overcame this aberration soon with greater understanding.
As stated at the vote of thanks at the crematorium, there was the
broad heart and iron will in seemingly a lean, unassuming YW and he
could not be ruffled or muffled by such minor aberrations. In his
thin, small frame was embedded the Hercules who could serve humanity
with greater vigor.
He was an epitome and embodiment of a ‘public servant’ and was
not a ‘government servant.’ His departure from public service was so
sudden, his seniors like late R Abeyratne expected him to withdraw
his “retirement” papers, which was originally made in a flurry as a
“resignation”. His retirement was on an honest principle which we
need not discuss here; but, the Hercules inside humble YW was
unstoppable. Though I associated him for decades I cannot remember
YW driving a car. When I mentioned this to his son Udara he said:
“He had a licence. Thaatha liked to travel by bus and attend to his
chores and he was happy about the outcomes of what he did and did
not mind comfort.” Is not it a sinful tragedy that a modest person
of such calibre had to depart due to an accident on a zebra
When MG Kularatna and I visited YW in the hospital we expected
him, upon regaining health, to brighten us with his endearing smile
and activity filled life. He would have served humanity for years to
come as he was not tired of serving. But, unfortunately he is gone
for ever. It is not he who lost his value; but, those who would have
been served by him, had he lived.
Great poet Khalil Gibran in Prophet said of friendship “For that
which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the
mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.” The mountain
that was YW’s illuminated spirit is ever so beautiful, clearer from
this point of his death.
While conveying our sorrow to his wife, children and family, Pera-60
wishes him the eternal bliss of Nibbana.
|When was Robert Knox here?
Your correspondent to the ‘Eye’ Culture Page on April 10 has erred
in placing old Robert Knox in the British period.
He was a prisoner of Rajasinha II when he ruled the Kandyan kingdom
and the DUTCH ruled the maritime provinces. She should brush up her