Thursday, June 14, 2018

With no one going into farming, don’t waste Rs100B in borrowed money, for the Maduru Oya Right Bank Project to clear 17,000 hectares for agriculture

All our elected representatives, live in dreamland, making decisions that have no bearing on a National Plan for development of this Country. This has been true no matter who has been in power, so I am not taking sides here in terms of successive Governments.

So when the Maduru Oya right bank project 2018 has been mooted as another massive agricultural project, I who has extensively traveled in that particular area, am painfully aware that it is the wrong investment for Sri Lanka. While it is currently priced at Rs70B, all being funded by Chinese Loans, few doubt that its true cost will be less than Rs100B. When you add the interest that has to be paid on the principal over 15 years, it amounts to more than Rs200B.

I don’t even want to go into speculating how many families will get land, how many people will benefit, and how many people currently in poverty will be raised out of it. The reality, there is NO ONE in this category that can be honestly helped, in this latest REAWAKENING POLONNARUWA PROJECT.

So let’s please look at the original Maduru Oya Project that opened up 28,000 hectares or 70,000 acres for Agriculture in 1983. I beg the authorities, to look at how many people presently live on that land, how much agricultural land is under cultivation and what crops they presently produce, and the total benefit to the GDP of this Country this has produced.

The results I assure you will be SHOCKING as I have spoken to farmers who have been helped by the scheme, who have ONLY BEEN ENSLAVED on the land, who will not budge for lucrative employment in areas where there is a huge demand, but still have been made dependent on the system, subsidies, price guarantees, free seed paddy, fertilizer shortages and the like.

I don’t have the numbers, the Government SHOULD have it at their fingertips, but we don’t have anyone with any common sense to ask, so that one can actually evaluate that project completed in 1983.

What we MUST face today is, giving people irrigated land to landless, does not make a farmer. Only about 20% of the people who are given land know how to be successful, contribute to their livelihoods and to the GDP of the Country. The others are entrenched in permanent poverty and dependency. Of the 80% of the remainder, half have left agriculture, and have other employment as their main source of income, wasting the land that was given to them as part of the scheme. So what do they do? 

They are either Policeman, Security Forces Personnel, including Civil Security, Public Servants, Road Construction workers on temporary daily work, or who have left for employment in Colombo living in boarding rooms all month and coming home for a few days in the month. A few others have left for the Middle East. This is the reality.

Their vote is still in the village, so please get all the details from the local grama niladaris, to verify or deny my contention. Politicians pander to their insecurities by promising the earth in subsidies and samurdhi, and free this and that, for their power! It prevents them from understanding the plight, and providing a framework to improve their own quality of life.

Instead of wasting Rs100B of Capital, on a hair brained scheme that will further denude our forest cover, instead of our goal to increase it back to 33% of the land mass of Sri Lanka, for environmental survival of the island, I say just spend Rs1B to look at the livelihood of each family in the original LEFT BANK SCHEME, and assist those who can help themselves.

So what is the objective of this Rs 1B spend? To increase productivity, output, enable economic output of a sustainable kind to these people. Why? It is simply an exercise to understand where we have gone wrong in our land distribution to landless, the worst decision made by governments in my opinion in the past 70 years, when one looks back at it, and do something to redress the wrong we have done to these innocent people by giving them hope of a better life. Instead our citizens have fallen from the frying pan into the fire, from bad policies.

We talk about new projects every day to improve the economy, but we don’t analyze past errors, to correct them FIRST, before we move on. We continue to make the same mistakes. Trust me on this, we waste money on one project or another, meant to fool people into thinking they are positive and good for them.

It is all in the mind. We don’t have Public Servants who have been tasked into evaluating existing projects, learning from them, so that the successful are further assisted to become entrepreneurs and be more productive, whilst finding alternative avenues for those who have fallen through the cracks.

Surely as part of PIBIDIMU POLONNARUWA this idea is better than the plan to spend 100fold on this destructive useless, megalomaniacal project? Mr President, I will take charge of this, as long as you hand me the human resources to accurately evaluate all who have been settled, many are now their descendants, in the LEFT BANK project that opened 70,000 new acres to agriculture. This was mooted then as some of the most productive land in the Country. 



Anonymous said...

Immediately shut all agriculture courses in all the Universities in Sri Lanka. Why? 70% are women who have no intention in going into agriculture, and are doing it so they are marriage material, that's all!

We need people who want to cultivate, and they don't come out of Universities

Anonymous said...

Send the Agriculture Faculty staff to pasture and see whether they are fodder for the animals, or become farmers, then take them back if they are able to show promise as real farmers, not the theoretical kind who teach their students the most impractical concepts that cannot be used in practice, limited to the labs

Anonymous said...

70 years and Sri Lankan agricultural productivity is the worst in the world. Why?

Those who should not be farmers have been forced by all governments for political expediency to go into farming, due to this ludicrous love for land that people have. Land is a noose on your neck till death.

Those who don't have land are the most mobile, flexible, opportunistic and therefore wealthy people in Sri Lanka. They buy their land and homes after they are successful, not before. So being tied to land is like being a slave to your own land, guarding, it protecting it, and eventually getting killed, because you have encroached into a wild animal's kingdom, because the Government gave their land to you. Don't even touch it

The govt. wants you to be poor, so they can pretend to help you

Anonymous said...

We can change about 1 million hectares that is marginal land back to forest, that will help this country's carbon foot print and get carbon credits, which are more valuable than the present output of that land.

There has to be a political will to do so as 500,000 people will be displaced, but they can be offered housing in urban areas by building homes, as there are enough employment opportunities for them anyway, only no place to live.

Anonymous said...

The total disconnect of politicians from reality is bared in full here. The people are fooled into believing that a hugely expensive project will benefit them, when in fact it only benefits the sponsors, who get commissions, bribes, deals, contracts etc. who then push for it. The rural people are told it will benefit them.

In truth the Maduru Oya project has been a disaster, not because of the land being made available for irrigation, but because it should have been productively cultivated, using mechanization, and laser leveling machinery, which would have cut the cost of paddy production to a small figure. The yields would also have been much higher with more efficient techniques.

Instead this good land was given to people who are nothing but marginal farmers with hand tractors, who can barely live above the poverty line and are extremely inefficient in their technology used.

It looks like the new project is going to help votes, not production of food. What a waste

Anonymous said...

It is simple, for a Rs100B investment to even break even, a minimum benefit to the economy of Rs10B per annum is needed. There is no likelihood which ever way you look at it and value that the output, let alone the return from this will amount to Rs10B, so it is obviously a project by foolish politicians of the kind like Sirisena and Rajapakse to even think of.

No wonder businessmen should be given to run Sri Lanka, as in the worst case they will never waste their money. While on the other hand elected officials waste the people's money daily, because it is not theirs.

Moreover they don't understand the social return on investment either for public projects

Anonymous said...

Who is doing a Human Resource plan for Sri Lanka? No one I presume.

It should incorporate projections of labor force in each industry or category, that includes agriculture, women trades, professions, hospitality - the whole gamut.

It will clearly show that the demand for labor outstrips supply, with the resulting upward pressure on wages to fill those positions, will make the hospitality industry a high cost one, where have no option but to go upmarket to high end tourism, so this 5M tourists per year is not only unsustainable, its a pipe dream where we cannot service it with the projected labor force into that industry.

A similar concern awaits agriculture, and in order to resolve that, we have to mechanize much faster, and go high tec and effectively train a new corps of agricultural workers with the expertise, before giving them the tools needed, machinery and land in order for them to earn the wages, all in excess of Rs100K.

Its crazy that no one has addressed this point anywhere in present literature and if they have it is not well known amongst people who need to know.

Anonymous said...

There is no time value of money. If agricultural workers put a value on their chosen leisure, that is the time they enjoy doing nothing also known as laziness, then you can argue they are actually wealthier than there urban working poor, who work all hours for little, due to their low level of education.

Agricultural workers are not worked to death as the work is seen as seasonal at best, allowing a lot of time to lay about, imbibe in moonshine, if legitimate alcohol is not available or affordable.

So it can be argued - they have the highest quality of life of any category in Sri Lanka and even though they are inefficient, and thus always broke, they still are able to choose how they wish to live and love, where their leisure time has a lot of value to them.

In strict accounting terms they may only contribute 10% to the economy in the way we measure their output, but in reality if they are generally choosing not to work, that lifestyle choice is in of itself, worthy of emulating, where money is not the paramount goal of man.

This curse is the bequest of those who live in paradise, and so no amount of State Projects and Funding is going to help them move out of their self imposed comfort zone

Anonymous said...

It is so refreshing to read something that is not in the news, but is actually more important than anything in the news today. What does that say about the Media? It is there to fool the people and the comments in VOC from where I got this link, show that all the writers there only read the news, on TV, papers and social media, which form the basis of their opinions, which can be totally off the mark as it comes to making decisions and putting out ideas, to improve the quality of life people who live in Sri Lanka as you put it, being your sole purpose in writing this blog over 10 long years of struggle.

Other writers would have sneaked into a newspaper and only written what the paymaster wants you to write, not from the heart, from common sense, but from filthy lucre.

Thank you for this refreshing breath of fresh air to put all the bull shit we see, read and write in perspective. If we care only about how everyone living in this Country can have a better life, we can achieve great things, but no one does that, they merely follow some known person's tail, like pied piper and are completely led astray.

Thank you for making us think again, and not follow any blind idea to its end, taking a cue from some post on face book

Anonymous said...

Have you noticed how politicians are obsessed with opening something, foundation stone and opening ceremonies.

Everything they have opened is now left to rot, as it is not maintained. WE should insist that we have a 5 yearly, progress report of every project that was opened over Rs5Billion, The people can then be informed of its success or failure and what needs to be done to get it back on track.

This new project mania must stop, and let us stop any new projects and go back and repair all our broken buildings, roads, culverts, repair the thousands of cars that are lying in every government building rotting away, and if they cannot be repaired, be either auctioned off or sold for scrap metal. In this way we will clean up everything use what we have.

How can people justify buying new vehicles when private companies use ones for so much longer than the government?

So stop any new car or van or truck purchase for 5 years and repair older vehicles, that must be at least 100,000 in government garages up and down the country - please

Just think of the billions of rupees that can be saved, that is currently being wasted using borrowed money. The Rajapakses were the worst buying fleets for the forces that now every 4 start general goes to visit his wife in a Prado, with a driver and a batman, once a week from the camp he is stationed at.

This does not happen even in the USA

Anonymous said...

Why has no one actually seriously done a review of past projects, so that shortcomings can be corrected and the same mistake is not repeated?

Surely the Public Servants should make this suggestion. I suppose they are a lazy bunch who only want benefits of their position but to get away with doing as little as possible.

We could have over the years avoided so many unnecessary wastage of resources.

I suppose the suggestion of reviewing past deeds especially with misappropriations of funds, is one no one likes to engage in, at a cost to the Country.

Great Suggestion, here, and hope some people with responsibility are reading this to implement tomorrow - why has no one thought of this before?

Anonymous said...

100 billion rupees to move some mud to create a wall? 1 billion rupees to talk to some farmers and live out in the village? can we all get onto the gravy train then?