Friday, January 22, 2016

Agriculture Training – Drastic Policy Shift – The immediate need

Arguably Sri Lanka has the most unproductive agricultural base in the world. The costs of production are obscene compared to the level of pesticides and weedicides used! This make s mockery of eating poison, that has cost a huge amount to produce, where even Organic producers in India can produce for less cost. In short time for a radical shift. RAADICAL RAADICAL

Start with the teaching and research in Agriculture. STOP ALL AGRICULTURAL TEACHING AT UNIVERSITY. There is NO point teaching 75% women in the Agricultural Faculties just because that is the faculty they got into with their z score. NOT because they wanted to learn agriculture to follow a vocation as a farmer as their primary desire in life!!

There are so many agricultural training and research institutes in this Country, and they have patently not come together to give us the RESULTS WE NEED!

Gannoruwa, Mahaillupulama, Bathalagoda, Hector Kobbekaduwa Institute. We seem to have MORE PhDs in agriculture that the US department of agriculture, but we have not been able to solve the dilemma of an efficient, productive, profitable and export oriented (for select high value niche agricultural products) Agriculture System despite years of resource input, on reflection ALL wasted. 

High time therefore once and for all to get agriculture under one holistic umbrella which includes 1 day courses, 7 day courses, in house and external, diplomas, degrees, degrees, special degrees and even masters and Phd programs. This will then ONLY be littered with people INTERESTED I this subject from the heart.

I am running around trying to find the best seedling pepper to plant in my property, and I want guidance to ensure that I chose the right variety that suits my own climate, rainfall and soil pattern on  my land, and I am given the run around, and now have to deal with even Daya Gamage’s Ministry also, why a run around, if there is a one stop shop, that will direct me to the right body. For all I know there may be an expert in this topic stick in some University, that even the Ministry bureaucrats don’t know about, who could give the right answer to this problem.

I have been the only farmer in Sri Lanka that has simultaneously grown over 75 products in one time, in both the dry zone and wet zone and transported and delivered direct to my customers homes in Colombo, and none has repeated it! 

So with the struggle I have had to go from pillar to post, sometimes to all of the above to get advice in addition to the University, I realize farmers don't even have that advantage. 

I therefore suggest all training is funneled through a Central Depository, that knows what is the need, and can be a holistic AGRICULTURAL INSTITUTE catering to all levels of knowledge scatttered all around the Country, but every one on one page.

Some of the experts on one topic don't even know there are others in other places, where they can exchange their ideas with as there is NO central database of knowledge either. The resource is there, it is a matter of organizing all in a structure, that is done to achieve the National Policy, and I can assure you it may cost less than now, and achieve a far better result than now, and only people truly interested in the subject will use the resources of the state to take Sri Lanka to the next level that is needed if are both to meet the nation's food needs and have surplus for high value export.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

So what is this idea of two Boats only, that can use power for Whale watching?

I was asked why I would recommend two boats, (a suggestion in the previous blog entry) and two licenses to be auctioned to unrelated parties. I know if it was the same organization, they could use the same overhead and therefore reduce the costs to the Customer!

Well have you heard about MONOPOLY pricing? I believe that will lead to NO competition and exploitation of the visitor for personal greed only, maximizing the profitability of the organization. Steps to avoid a OLIGOPOLY Mafia too!

So what, let us say three boats have licenses, then all the marketing could be handled through one source, and people could choose which of the three boats based on customer satisfaction from the Web, and there could be differences in quality, price, service, insurance to passenger, food on board, sale times and different levels of comfort depending on which deck the customer is on. These levels of differentiation, can have different price points, that enable customers to choose what type of product they wish to purchase, even though only two or three operators are allowed to operate one vessel each based on certain maximum specified dimensions.

One assumes (that can be wrong and so adjusted) when there is this choice, the tourist, local and foreign will get the service he or she pays for. There will NOT be this element of touts operating to take people, mostly on foot, but also by three wheeler to the dock as is done at present. There could be a dedicated dock with parking and other refreshment facilities for the convenience of the tourist as you would have in other countries with SOUVENIR SHOPS of whales need I say!

Today’s practice is a sorry excuse for a squeeze, of the UNKNOWN (a tourist does not know until he goes throughout the whole process, what he is paying for!) that is simply unacceptable as the cost is quite high, and the likelihood of exploitation accordingly unacceptable. We don’t want tourists partaking in this telling others it is NOT worth the experience as they weigh the price and convenience and impression very critically these days. 

I do not believe the small man will be priced out of this, as he has the option of a boat without a motor, a lower cost approach than now, and possibly be able to give an experience the licensees don’t have. Anymore to say that currently it maybe a mafia or one or two who are exploiting the situation anyway, so that any concern for the little un, is just wishful thinking, and the only person been screwed is the hapless tourist getting short end of the stick, whichever option is chosen. Nothing to stop the VV Wealthy in their own yachts, for personal trip

Friday, January 1, 2016

Exploit and Kill the Goose that lays the Golden Egg – Sri Lanka’s economic theory in a nutshell

First it was Yala, then gradually the other National Parks, and now it is the Whales, and I don’t know countless other traditions, and skills have been killed off along the way in the Sri Lankan version of development.

We HAVE NOT still taken the simple step of restricting entry to Yala to just 200 vehicles and 1000 people a day. There is NO other way to obtain a balance between man and nature, and HOW you do it is up to Policy makers, whether it is by auction, a hybrid of lottery and auction, (remember then the lottery winners will auction their ticket to the highest bidder too) or some other method so that the animals and humans will both be able to enjoy the spectacle of GOD.

In the same light, it is only recently that we have begun to exploit the richness of the seas around us. GOD has been kind enough to give us the chance of allowing the greatest number of Blue Whales that are concentrated in one place on the face of the earth. What we do with it is up to man. This bounty is such that man has not found a method to balancing this windfall, without destroying it.

So who must step in? In all cases when man’s greed gets the better of him, that is when we need a state to mandate rules, so that this windfall is available for future generations too, and not just the present to squeeze every  ounce of life there is to from it, so their own self aggrandizement or riches! However one defines it.

It is with that in mind that I propose that the whole matter of Whale watching in Mirissa, just like dolphin watching and whale watching in Kalpitiya or Trincomalee, take some form of state intervention to ensure that this tourist treasure is managed for the greater good of man and beast!

What I propose is just one persons idea from a moments visit, and putting the heads of experts on the subject will better create a lasting and balanced solution.

Any number of sail boats with NO engines to be permitted in the area so both rich and poor alike can enjoy. For the armchair tourist from whom the dollar signs are most, two large ships be given exclusive rights, well regulated as to how they observe, and the proximity to animals. The license will be auctioned to two bidders who will then compete with each other for quality service and price, and they then charge for the daily outings, which will raise about Rs50M to the state coffers for the privilege whilst not preventing the truly dedicated rich and poor, in two hulled catamarans from enjoying the show. 

I am told that Sri Lanka boat builders have built the double hulled sailing boat in the picture that can just be moored on the whale watching site and stay in one place while the whales frolic about not disturbing the whales at all, and not creating waves of destruction, and waves on the sea that make the traveler sea sick either!   

The details and photos of the Mirissa Whale Watching Trip are shown in the Blog entry on 31st December 2015