Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Moonshine Murder (A true story) - happened less than 48 hours ago

The final act

The autopsy revealed that death was due to sever internal and external bleeding to all parts of the body, consisting of bruises, similarly to that of poles or sticks, on a severely emaciated person, wracked by kidney and liver disease caused by a lifetime of excessive alcohol intake. This was further hastened due to his inebriated state when the blows to his body were suffered, where he could not defend himself.

Thus ended the life of Dasa Mama (as in Dasanayake), who was Rajah and his siblings’ (Loku Nanda, Lika, Anoma, Ranji, and Kumara) first cousin, as their father and Dasa’s mother were brother and sister. So he was related by blood to 80% of the people in the village.

Dasa’s life was one of tragedy. His wife had left him 30 years ago, due to his excessive drinking, where she took her two children and went to live in Divulankadawala. He has been of no fixed abode since, sleeping rough at relatives homes, affectionately known as the village drunk, being inebriated every day from Moonshine, likely obtained from 10th Culvet Village (Dahaya Bokkuwa) where his final few days were spent in a home, where the woman and her daughter had taken pity on this poor man and had fed and taken care of him, as he had been given at most a year or two to live by doctors, and so did not have to die such a violent death, which was merely hastened by the murder.

He was a harmless person who troubled no one, and people in the village, many of whom are relatives, merely took pity on his life and fed him as they realized he was beyond repair! They tolerated his antics and took him at face value, until this tragedy lead many to ask why?

The murder of Dasa, the eldest, who has three male younger brothers, who live in the village, with their families and a younger sister who lives in a neighboring village, resulted in an outpouring of grief, where the funeral was held at his brother Premaratne’s house. This brother is in the Police Force attached to Minneriya and a respected person. I have still been unable to confirm that his ex-wife and his two children attended his final rights that were conducted on January 31st 2018 at the local village burial ground, the “Kanatte” that villages in such outposts call the final resting place.
The Preface

I come to this village to spend a week every month. I have been here now for nearly 18 years, and of that I have been a very frequent visitor for 14 of them, and have built and lived in my house by the village tank for 11 of these years.

In a sense though physically I am at the edge of the village today, it was once the center of the village in the geographical sense, where the people lived, but later moved when the road and power supply was given abandoning the traditional village to the jungle, which was the scene when I purchased the property.

It is a purana (as in ancient) gama, and along with Rotawewa was one of the few villages in existence before the British came and discovered the ruins of Polonnaruwa and DS Senanayake and his band of Civil Servants restored the ancient tanks and began the Colonisation Schemes to settle people from other parts of the Country in irrigated agricultural land in order to provide Sri Lanka with its Rice Crop and become self-sufficient in Paddy Production.

Ratmale is a village known as a farming village, while the adjoining village of Rotawewa, is known as a hunter gatherer village, where the people traditionally used to go into the forest, hunt and sell meat and produce such as bees honey and other medicinal herbs from the forest including yams and unusual edible delights. It is in this light that Dasa acted more as a hunter, where he made a living killing small animals, with his dogs, and Thalagoya, or land monitors were killed and sold to satisfy his daily Moonshine Fix.

The Murderers

Gamini, (aka Soththaya) around 42 years old and Nalaka around 24 years, from time to time worked at carpentry in Gamini’s wood shed. They both made two Neem Beds for my thatched guest room here. I then commissioned them to make me a dining table, but the Rs10,000 which was advanced to buy the wood, was instead used to drink themselves silly that day nearly a year ago now.

Gamini earned his living in his wood shed making items and selling to support his no-working wife and 4 children of school going age. Nalaka on the other hand with an employed Elder brother was the prodigal son, always getting into tiffs for drinking who used to go for work but return after a month, and repeat this cycle on an inconsistent basis. He was a floater and a scoundrel.
The night of the Murder

Gamini and Nalaka had gone in their motorbike to house that Dasa was staying in, and had obtained their Moonshine from nearby and had been drinking there, before they all left to go to Gamini’s house at the other end of Ratmale, and had continued until they were plastered.

In an inebriated state, they found a reason to argue, and also in that state, some nonsensical notion would have triggered a flare. This temper resulted in the older man, Dasa who was sickly, 62+ unable to defend himself from the blows of a two wooden poles used by the other two to beat him and they had all three eventually fallen on the ground quite oblivious to what they had done.

To Gamini’s wife, who was in the house and quite used to fighting in the house between drunkards, thought they were sleeping in a drunken stupor, as all was now quiet, and had gone to sleep elsewhere in her room.

When the moonshine wears off at 4am and Gamini wakes up and sees Dasa in a pool of blood DEAD, he panics. He wakes Nalaka up, and they asses what to do, and they decide to quickly drag the body to the roadside, outside their house and leave it there. They then come into the house and clean the blood stains and other evidence from the previous night!

In the morning when the body is discovered on the road, all hell brakes loose, and the Police are called to investigate. Dasa after all is a brother of a police office who is attached to the Minneriya Police Force.

The body is sent for a post mortem to determine the cause of death. The principle suspect Gamini is apprehended and taken to the police, and while it was known who he was with, Nalaka was absconding and on the 31st his mother was able to turn him in to the police as he was hiding in the forest near his home and his mother was able to convince him that the best course of action was to surrender.

This mother works out of the village in a Garment Factory and lives there, and so now has to shut her home and leave for work, while her son is incarcerated on remand, a suspect in a murder trial. Gamini’s wife, is in a worse situation as the breadwinner of the family is in remand, while has to worry about providing for her four young children, a task, she presently knows not how. In this story it is the four innocent children of the murderer who really suffer!

A later version of the incident coming to light after the funeral gleaned from conversations with villagers. after dark on January 31st

In a small isolated village such as this relationships are incestuous, and I learned that the principal suspect Gamini and the victim are related, fairly closely but are not taken into account as the common ancestor is three generations up.

Secondly, the two suspects may have had a grudge, or some reason to attack the victim. They apparently went to where the victim was sleeping in his drunken stupor, saying he should not be staying in a Rhodiya House, as the people settled in the Dahaya Bokkuwa are low caste people settled by a politician about 20 years ago. They have then dragged the victim and brought to the prime suspect’s house where some altercation occurred. I am told from good authority the victim though prone to profanity in his drunken state, would not harm a woman in any way inappropriately, though the accused is supposedly saying he had insinuated something about the accused, adolescent, sixteen something daughter, just to save his soul maybe!

Further that he was knowingly beaten up, as the pole used to hit was cut from a tree that night. SO it was an intention and therefore pre-meditated, with the alcohol used to get confidence to carry out the crime. There is also the saying that the victim’s wife has been lying to protect her husband from the worst excesses, and so had heard the beating and should have shouted to the neighborhood to alert them to the beating before it got out of hand.

Further, when a man is known to have succumbed to injuries, the suspect suddenly loses all his drunken stupor like a shot, once the gravity of the crime sinks in and then he thinks of how to destroy all evidence asap.

The police say that blood was in the bike that brought the victim to the suspect’s house and further that once the victim was dead the wife helped move the body to the road where it was discovered.

Another person vouched that a three wheeler was called at some time in the morning pre-dawn, saying they had an emergency to take to the hospital and when the driver came and saw the victim was already dead did not want to have anything to do with it and left the scene without further ado.

Another story is that the suspect was hastily scouting the whole area for a place to dump the body, but could not find one and so resorted to the final place.
In the final case the crucial evidence will be of the pre-meditated nature of the crime and the second suspect may be crucial in either agreeing to or denying to save his soul from a life sentence.

The marks on the victim are not consistent with mere alcohol induced beating but harder injuries that are consistent with intent to kill while beating, due to the severity of the injury as reported in the post mortem.

The complicity of the wife and his mother both of whom were at home and would have known the altercation and did nothing to alert the neighbors who are within shouting distance could be accused of not doing enough to save the victim’s life.

The village is saying that the accused is a track eight person that is a person who lives in that area of Medirigiriya, which is notorious for senseless violence and has it in his genes inherited from that side of his family!

Until the finger prints are examined on the murder weapon, they will not be able to say how much of the first accused and how much of the second accused is on the pole. If there is a lot of the second accused, then he is not just an accessory, but as guilty as the first accused to the gravity of the crime.

The village is angry today, and the suspect’s family have been asked to lock their doors and wait inside, as they believe the wife could have prevented this level of violence and did nothing!

In the same vein they are very sympathetic to the four little children, one adolescent who had no part to play in this, who were said to be going hungry today, and the possibility of them being taken into care is very real, with no one willing to take responsibility for their upkeep and schooling.

How ironic then is the arrival of the victim’s ex-wife and two children, now married and with their own families, coming to the father’s funeral, not having seen him in the living for at least 25 years since the wife left him, with her children, and only living a few KM away!

Apparently the second suspect was all along in his home, but no one came looking, so where is the police in all this to apprehend him, has he in fact given himself in, to save his soul, otherwise his direct complicity is in doubt?



Is this how Gamini, who diddled me out of the Rs10,000 and not produced a table or returned my money, got his comeuppance? Fortunately when he asked more money to make the table as an advance I declined, as I knew if I had given, a similar event, where he would have merely used the money for alcohol would have resulted, and I was merely enabling his alcoholic craving!

How long will Nalaka the mother’s pet, who did nothing creditworthy and who did nothing but satisfy his alcohol craving, as his modus operandi in life, be stuck in jail? If you want to know the village view point as he was a near do well, it will be as well if he is locked up for life as he is no use to anyone.

Will the two incarcerated prisoners be able to satisfy their craving in jail as they are hardly likely to get bail at any price, due to the second degree murder rap they are likely to face?

WE have three people, all alcoholics who satisfy their moonshine supplier as their source of inebriation, out of the market, one in death and the others in jail.


If this is not a reason to address the scourge of alcohol addiction head on, what is? This is a scourge killing our society fast. Why cant our leaders address the illegal moonshine trade and alcohol addiction as a matter of priority, as increasing the price of arrack does nothing to reduce the problem as moonshine a more deadly concoction takes over, with the double negative of lower State Revenue from Alcohol taxes? Why are our leaders so deaf to address the problems instead of tinkering with banning the purchase of alcohol by women? The latter is a laughable joke, we have to be embarrassed by our shameless leaders who don’t seem to get it that they are the butt end of ridicule the world over.

The job of leaders is to prioritize action that will have the most effect on improving the quality of life of the people they are leading, that is all citizens of Sri Lanka. They should not waste their time on expensive local govt. elections, that only double the number of elected politicians, don't give local worthies the chance to improve their community and force people to vote on party lines that bear no relationship whatsoever to resolving problems and politicians holding meetings all over the country, that do not address the real problems of the people, but imaginary problems created by the politicians themselves which they maybe able to solve by fooling the public into a sense of comfort without really tackling the serious issues of society!

The true example that happened in the past 48 hours shows how important a problem that is devastating every village, all 15,000 of them up and down the Country and no one seems to realize what a social cost it is.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Does the State deserve to collect more taxation?

It is actually going to cut into growth, not give a helping hand to it.

I was talking with a friend, who has come from overseas to advise the State on increasing the Taxation yield and helped draft the New Inland Revenue Act, that comes into effect on 1st April 2018, and it is hoped that the percentage of direct taxation, most especially personal taxation as a percentage of GDP will rise, assisting the Government to collect a higher percentage and therefore a greater collection from Direct Taxation, in line with comparative countries. So the expected ration of Indirect to Direct will come down in favor of direct.

It is obvious that indirect taxes including VAT and Import Duties on even essential items like Sugar taxed at Rs30/kg our of a total cost of Rs100/kg has been the means by which the state collects Taxes which for all intents and purposes is clearly regressive, as it is the poor who spend all their income on consumer items suffering a taxation bite as they consume. The wealthy on the other hand except for those who pay the duty on imported vehicles, do not pay any significant tax as a proportion of their income and will continue to benefit, increasing their wealth in multiples as there is little of their increased wealth, especially in the rate of rise in property that many indulge in spending their spare cash, that gets taxed.

The capital gains tax proposed is expected to tax at 10% of the gains, which is still attractive, but hardly a disincentive to park their money there. However the 15% VAT now imposed on apartment disposals after April 1st by the developers on the FIRST sale of a new apartment, may suddenly turn into a wholesale property crash, in proportions we have never before experienced, if sentiment suddenly goes sour, and it is only a catalyst such as a VAT hike like this that can trigger such a catastrophe, leaving half built apartments in their wake, and a crisis of confidence of utmost proportions just because some foreign expert whose has NOTHING to lose make a proposal that our idiot followers have blindly accepted as necessary, not realizing how sensitive this sector is to a sudden price manipulation for the state to benefit from this sector.

A property tax gradually imposed on assessed values of new build apartments valued in excess of Rs20M, may have been a better solution.

I gave this background to alert the reader to the manipulations, taking place in order for the state to find means of increasing how much Taxation they collect. But before that, I have a problem with how the state currently spends money, be it taxed or from borrowed sources, and therein lies the real RUB!
There is NO argument that the State is wasting the tax payers money. Remember the tax payers broadly are poor people who are paying the state money so they can be profligate about spending it.

It is not personal money that the State Spends, so they don’t appear to mind if it spent wisely or not. We know it is wasted on unnecessary purchases, as the State Employees are not sufficiently altruistic to be careful with their spending habits, and if the Treasury receives a lot more money, they are simply under political pressure to be even more profligate to keep the public happy by doling out unproductive largesse to fulfill cravings, and not long terms growth.

While it is one argument that the state is not collecting enough , the other side of the same argument is that if the state taxes the people and wastes that money, the economy could be in an even worse state.

One good side effect of wealth, is that people only require so much to live, so wealthy people invest their wealth in ways to increase their wealth further, and the more productive that investment, the greater the return assisting the economy in the process, by creating employment and production.

Instead of that, if that money is taxed and doled out to the poor you are simply helping him have a better life, while not doing anything to improve economic prosperity. So is this money better left in the hands of the wealthy or is it better handed over to the State to spend?

I personally don’t have any confidence in the Sri Lankan state to spend wisely, and so it is another tragedy of epic proportions, where the State will stifle consumption and investment to the extent of the extra taxation yield and waste the money raised on consumption of imported goods like food items for the needy.

I have repeated ad nauseam in this blog about the waste of the Country’s resources by those in power backed by those in Public Service, both of which are highly politicized and peopled with armies of individuals who don’t add one red cent to the economy, except bleed it dry.

Until we clean up the rot at the top, holding politicians and Govt servants accountable for performance, we should resist paying this additional taxation, until the State can demonstrate they know how to spend the people’s money wisely, like they would their own hard earned money.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Have you noticed the SMOG in Colombo lately? Why is no one talking about it?

When air pollution is the talk of the town everywhere, we it appears have other more pressing concerns than public health, and no matter if our life expectancy is about to tumble, we are still tossing hairs about who we should have to lead this Country in a National Election on National Policy rather than really worry about the problems peculiar to the local residents in this local government election.

The link below is about how air pollution is killing millions around the Globe and we cannot escape it as it spreads from Country to Country as we have to act together and not separately thinking these are concerns only of other countries.

Please, before our air quality becomes like Delhi’s please take steps to prevent this immediately

I recommend an immediate move to LNG or Electric Buses, and not just the 50 we are talking about. We must make the people aware of how unsafe the fumes of all diesel buses are and three wheelers are second only to them.

It is important that parents also understand that sending their children in school vans of buses to Colombo to school if they are NOT airconditioned, is exposing them to horrendous pollution which will leave them with a shorter life, but worse they may die suffering pulmonary diseases all because the Parents want do give their child a better education. Noble ideals can fall flat on your face if you are not intelligent enough to think things through to its conclusion.

Has anyone noticed the sun setting in Colombo being Red. Well it is because of smog and not because it is attractive. In the old days the sun set was beautiful with blue skies and setting sun, I know as I lived by the sea in the Western Province and saw the sun setting in the evening on our walks along the railway line in the evening, waiting for the clear sun to set in its glory!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Japan the new Jerusalem for Sri Lanka’s short term migrant workers

Of all places for well organized migrant labor, the Korean employment program run by the Korean Government, which both conducts Korean Language Exams and then vets the workers and matches them with prospective employers in Korea, IS currently the best program for Sri Lankan workers.

This results in both well remunerated work in certain industries and a clear period of initial employment and the possibility of a return for a further assignment of 2 to 5 years, that has resulted in remittances back to Sri Lanka of between Rs5M and Rs20M per migrant worker, during the course of their employment.

Even once exams are passed, there is a strict vetting process, with medical checks and capability, where a better educated worker is recruited. No doubt most go for the income benefits, where they leave SKILLED jobs in Sri Lanka and take up manual labor work in Korea in small family run production plants, because of the huge income discrepancies, so it is not the case where unemployed people go to Korea. Most leave jobs, and in those instances employers in Sri Lanka have to recruit lesser qualified or capable people to fill them. There is therefore a cost to Sri Lanka.

So in this era where we question the need for our women to go to the Middle East it is high time that the State becomes PROACTIVE, and has discussions Government to Government with Japan on a pathway for one distinct class of worker required by the Japanese State, due to the rapidly aging and diminishing population there.

The obvious area where there is going to be a severe shortage is in the area of Geriatric Health Care workers, male and female to assist this aging population. Japan, a very organized and disciplined nation, is acutely aware of the need, and is considering all options, but it is the solution to both their needs and our wants that is staring in the face, with no one taking the initiative to MATCH the two.

I therefore recommend the initiative to train and fill up to 5,000 vacancies a year, to start with, by first setting up an institution to supply this need with the collaboration and possibly financed by the Japanese Government, a one year course, where those who qualify are then sent to Japan for a 5 year period, for employment where they can earn an income in the region of Rs400,000 a month there.

We must train unskilled people, usually young, and not take people out of existing productive jobs which is one of the downsides of the Korean Employment Program.

It is important that there is an investment on the part of the person concerned in this one year course, as otherwise there will be no commitment to go once the course is completed if it is FREE, and some form of bond is signed to ensure that both parties to the contract benefit.

This way we can reduce the need for unskilled people leaving for Middle East employment which is gradually declining, and replacing with specialized workers who can be sent to one of the most desirable countries that people currently clamor to go and then disappear into the country, undocumented.

Unfortunately the only issue for the Japanese Government is that these workers if the history of migrant workers is anything to go by, don’t want to return, finding some means to disappear into the woodwork!

If there is a way to bind them, similar to the Korean Model, then there will be some assurance of their return once the assignment is completed. This project could fulfill both Countries' needs and provide another economic pathway to young people, who upon their return could be assured of employment in the health care field, which is a fast growing one in Sri Lanka, or at least economic independence where they have the capital to get a start in life, in business, or a regular income, to supplement their lower income in employment upon arrival.

We can look into the examples of Korean Job returnees to Sri Lanka, to ascertain how successful they have been in setting up their own businesses and improving their family economic bases upon their return.

Frankly, this project is a no brainer, and at least has some assurance of returnees having the ability to benefit the Country. Contrast this with the new Nursing School that is under development, where we are about to train Nursing Graduates, and sign them up for a minimum of 5 years in the local health sector as a BOND. We will train them at a very high cost to the Government, but within a few years, they will be snapped up in the Western Countries like the USA, which is crying out for trained and qualified nurses, where they will emigrate with their families, and be of little use to the Sri Lankan Economy, in short an investment with no return, a total LOSS, unless the cost of their full education is borne by those nurses.

In conclusion, WE MUST understand that many countries including ours are facing huge skills shortages and related crises, but we will be the loser, to higher paying countries and don’t want to be the training ground for other Countries’ needs, where half our doctors still emigrate, wasting our valuable state resources in Free Education for them. 

Let us use our most valuable resource, "Human Resource", Wisely!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Must you vote Mr Perera must you vote? No just go to the polls and spoil your vote! Why?

Why spoil my vote, as I can choose a color and a symbol! Yes that’s the problem Mr Perera, that’s the problem. This is a village vote!

You are voting for a symbol and not a person. The symbol is a plebiscite nothing else! We can’t choose a good person to be our man, be OUR MAN! Or our WOMAN! Why? Only one of us will understand our needs locally.

That is how Parliament has designed it so NO Good men can seek your vote, seek your vote! A good man is independent of colors and parties, so he’s out.

What can I do to teach them a lesson for screwing me right royally?

Simple go to the polls and spoil your vote, spoil your vote. You will then send a message, don’t mess with me, don’t mess with me! There is no other way to express your disgust my dear man. Pray tell me otherwise.

You get it?

The present system as designed will ensure that those who can win fairly, namely good people in the community, who can do something good for the community are barred from this election, by the rules. The rules were set up so good men will have no chance, and parties are at the fore, not the people.

We must teach a lesson to all that party politics is something of the past that has only enabled those with the loudest shout and deepest pockets can get their say. Sadly the media is also bought and paid for and don’t represent the man in the street anymore. So with no voice the vote is all you have. Use it to SPOIL IT.

Just see the shock waves that will be let off. We can demand all politicians are barred from elections from now on, as they have forfeited the public trust.

The way to go my fellow citizens, unless any of you have a better idea! Let’s hear it. My hypotheses is that everyone I explain the present system of doubling elected representatives are dead against the system, as it will make our system of government MORE politicized and NOT less. So what to do? We have to reject this system outright. My suggestion is the only means. Not going to the polls does not give the same message. They will say true to form local government elections don’t arouse the same passions! SO GO AND SPOIL

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The reality of subsistence farming in 2018 Polonnaruwa – Paddy Cultivation

I have let my paddy fields this year to a fellow farmer to cultivate, not asking for any payment in return, as I know the true situation of the struggle he will have of this venture paying off.

I will try and explain what I mean, with reference to one of my neighboring farming friends, who is currently busy, cultivating his land and some others he has got for the “poronduwa” meaning promise to pay certain amount of paddy in return for the land to cultivate.

I gave his three children all the CR books, (exercise books for this year’s school costing over Rs5,000) and I also received his book list so I know the rest of the list would be another Rs10,000 and that is on top of the free Text Books provided by the State. This is truly a big expense for a farmer to provide each of his school going kids Rs5K of stuff to begin their new school year in January.

Due to lack of water in the Minneriya Tank, and the long wait for water from the Moragahakanda Scheme that was opened by the President on January 8th, water was only given to the Minneriya Scheme Farmers on December 25th and only now are they sowing their seeds, a full three weeks later, and from tomorrow the water will be given on allotted days, as per normal. While the tank is not even half full, with limited rains, the promise of a certain amount of Moragahakanda water is some respite, as without it they may not have been able to farm all their land this season.

I was asking him on the economics of cultivation and reason why many farmers are giving up paddy cultivation, due to risk and being uneconomical. So here are some of the costs that small farmers have to incur to cultivate their lands and one of the reasons I was not willing to incur these costs to cultivate mine too.

The hire of a large tractor to plough a field of an acre now costs Rs10,000. The hire of a daily laborer costs Rs1,500. In that day, they really start only at 8.30am and finish before 5pm, and take an hour for lunch and two tea breaks, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, which effectively means working only for 6 hours at most for this pay, Rs250 an hour. Unless one is using one’s own family for this task and has their own tractor it is a lose lose proposition to cultivate hoping for 1,500kg of paddy at harvest which at the higher price today of Rs50/kg or Rs75,000 as Revenue for cultivating an acre is simply not a paying proposition.

Contrast this with farmers in the Eastern Province who pool their lands and give it to one team for cultivation. This team owns all the implements for Paddy Cultivation, including large tractors, ploughs, combined harvesters, skilled drivers and more over have agreed with large mills to supply them with the paddy too, so covering all bases and be able to buy the inputs in bulk to save money and also have the means to combat emergencies of water supply if needed. It must also be remembered that this enables them to agree terms with the owners of the land and cultivate a massive field of even 200 acres at once, and agree with all the owners how they are to be paid for the rent of their land.

In this way their cost of production is less than 50% of the subsistence farmer, and so are able to make a substantial profit to share amongst the team involved in an agreed proportion, after paying off the costs of production. In some instances some of these professional teams, none of whom may NOT even own any land can earn Rs500K to Rs1M as their share for 3 to 4 months of work!

Frankly this is the way to go, and no wonder many small farmers are leaving their land uncultivated and going to places like Colombo to work as day labor and provide for their families, making the time honored tradition of giving land to the landless to farmers a thing of the past, but the politicians who are still in the habit of doling out land for political gain, and permanent enslavement of farmers are quite unfit to hold these posts that are counterproductive.

It is no surprise then that this farmer friend, who is living hand to mouth, is not encouraging his only son to follow in his footsteps and will continue this until he is fit enough but wonders what the future holds for him, as I told him about pooling their knowledge and resources to farm large tracts to make it economical. However though he agrees and would like to join a team to do so, there is no likelihood of people willing to part with their land on these terms en mass, so a whole large field is given to one team. It is not the practice in the area to do this yet, as the idea is not freely accepted as some old fashioned ideas persist, where each man must at least have his own rice to feed his family, something that will have to be given up in this large scale system.

These are matters to be taken up by those in control of other people’s lives, public administrators and politicians, to enable subsistence farmers to lead a better quality of life, and not be permanently forced to slave themselves to a system that is broken and cannot be fixed anymore. While old habits die hard, it is for an enlightened administration to offer novel solutions, both to achieve productivity, and a good return on the use of land, and value the cost of time!

In an era where everyone has alternative means of income, it simply the responsibility of those in power, to enable those displaced to take on more remunerative work and provide the facilities to do so, knowledge and access to practical issues such as accommodation to take up new employment in distant places.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

When everyone I know, who cares about Sri Lanka, thinks this election is a joke, why doesn’t every voter go to the ballot box and spoil their vote?

Those intelligent enough to grasp the reality, know that these elections are another nail in the coffin of sanity, in doubling the number of Members of the local councils to nearly 9,000. As it is, we are over politicized and NO ONE doubts that, to honestly entertain a doubling is sheer lunacy. YET no one is agitating against it, or castigating the cast of characters who allowed such an Act to pass in Parliament.

So no one holds the blame for the impending catastrophe, is willing to accept the blame, or even thinks it will lead to the breakdown of the whole political system. It’s this sheer ignorance, that is baffling, and on the other hand the elector continues to complain that the system is rotten, yet still goes and votes for the same rotten mix of people, swinging the vote from one set of rogues to another, and both sets of rogues therefore share in the spoils, due to the failure of the electors/voters to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The campaigning is in full progress, with lies at the helm of every mouth. Every promise is a broken promise and none of the cast of characters are talking about local issues as they relate to the voter, only national issues that don’t mean jack shit in this election, but are the main purposes as noted by the leaders.

For example, the joint opposition, of the MR camp is claiming this is a plebiscite on the popularity of the Govt! What a shame then? No one is voting for better local govt, instead, merely on how they feel about the Government in power, or to put it simply the coalition in power, with each party contesting individually, hoping they together will be able to control most of the local councils, and assert they won the elections, while the JO may gain more votes and make the same claim!

Might I remind the voter that in this morass, it is a disgrace that local worthies are NOT allowed to put their hat in the ring and seek election, as individuals are BARRED from seeking election from their own Ward, they have to contest a whole Council with a slate of candidates on TWO lists, and that is NOT practical for a good man or woman who wants to do something for their local community.

Put simply, there is NO democracy in this election, just a fashion parade of parties. What is worse is that on polling day, the voting sheet does NOT have any individual’s names, merely the party sign and a place for a cross, so it is surely voting for a party and not a person, anathema for local elections. I can only blame the Sri Lankan voter for tolerating such nonsense, blindly, ignorantly, passively!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Letter sent to a budding farmer showing enthusiasm - on some of the pitfalls and what to be mindful of!


Before embarking on a serious Agricultural Project – approach with all eyes open wide, and all senses at their peak, ready to handle all unforeseen circumstances.

The Agricultural Environment and Falsehoods

IF you thought you knew something about Risk, taking risks, and handling risk, you have not really faced the truth on what true risk really is. Don’t get me wrong, I am not being negative, I am being a realist and in the same breadth, can confirm that rewards can equally be stunning, over thousand percent on investment. However, along with it one must over time, be able to add pluses and minuses over a period of time to achieve a credible return on investment, the biggest one that is not taken account of is the investment of time and effort that cannot be quantified.

I have maintained then, and continue to maintain now, that to be a successful producer of any type of agricultural product, your knowledge needs to be greater than any medical doctor. Therefore the best brains of the country must venture into this field in order to engage in a productive and profitable venture.

We currently only think that this field is only for failures in other fields, or those who have left school before O levels to do. That is wrong. That is why our agriculture is arguably the most inefficient and highest cost in the world.

I am attempting to give you a realistic picture based on my personal experience, so you avoid the pitfalls and learn from what I have to say, as I wish anyone going into agriculture, my sincere admiration and wishes for a successful outcome as there is MORE THAN ENOUGH room for everyone, and we must not fear fellow farmers and competition, a very narrow island mentality that still drags our brethren unwilling to share their experiences and help each other out.

The Critical Foundation to a successful venture in Agriculture

1                   Don’t rely on any advice given by your local Agricultural Adviser, chances he had never had any real experience in this field.

2                   You have to do all your research yourself, there is no reliable source for advice or information and where one can go for help. You have to learn the hard way.

3                   Remember the most important item, that most farmers stint on is, ensuring you have the BEST seeds or seedlings or plating material to work with and it is like chasing the devil to get hold of it, as no one can give the right answer as to what is best for your local conditions and soil! Often this is with other farmers who are reluctant to part with it for fear of competition.

4                   By way of example just take ‘NIVITHI’ a simple, very nutritious green that we must all take. Look around it is hard to buy, its nutritious quality is not known and good planting material is impossible to find. Ironically it can be grown vertically, so little space is required and if grown properly people can earn a good living on one perch of this, if supplied to the right place.

5                   Multi-cropping is more advisable than Mono-cropping, so you are NOT dependent on one crop, that can be lost due to disease or weather related issues. Also crop rotation is the advisable route as it is better for soil fertility and prevents the spread of disease.

6                   If you can, grow items that have a high value, where demand exceeds supply and is not easily available in wholesale markets. This is because the Chain of Food City and Keells is expanding fast, a new Keells and Food City are opening near me in Godagama within the next week and both are competing to be the first to open! What I am implying is that with the growth of the supermarkets into the all areas, the increase in consumer spending in the Western Province, the demand for high value foods is rising.

7                   Consider the benefits of building a greenhouse even in the Western Province, to grow high value items. Unlike in the West it is not to grow items you cannot grow in cold weather, it is to protect the cultivation from all those that can affect their growth. You can control pests, you can control moisture and heat, you can prevent diseases spreading, (they can often devastate the crop in a week, before a solution is found) Bell Peppers are usually grown this way, at retail price of yellow, Rs2,

8                   On the question of Ginger, I don’t know if you are referring to the old genuine Ginger of the past or to the present larger ginger using hybrid planting materials. I used to grow the local ginger here in Godagama, which is not far at all from Horana. I wish I grew more of it, now called ‘Beheth Inguru’ which is so hard to find and now is more than Rs500/kg for the real stuff. I know that Elephant House has an out-grower system where this is grown for their Ginger Beer where they guarantee price etc. It is so hard to find anywhere. I will advise that is the way to go and try and find GOOD planting material to test out how it performs.

9                   Remember the soil conditions are important for the type of crop. So for Ginger you need a good humus mix of soil that drains and does not retain moisture that will spoil the crop. If there is rain the water has to drain out not flood the root. So the beds have to be well prepared and if you intend on concentrating on this you must go and speak with a farmer who specializes in this or has specific knowledge of the problems, diseases and resulting fixes etc.

10              My advice always is to test everything you want to do in a large scale, first under the same conditions you want to grow. So try a test bed, and see how it grows, and learn the patterns, before spending a fortune straight away on a large cultivation. If testing is the way to go, I would test different crops at the same time, to choose what is the best that suits your own area and your soil conditions. Sri Lanka is a unique place where even the soil in one field can differ from one point to the other! In other countries for thousands of square kilometers you have the same soil!

11              From 10 above therefore know the type of soil in every part of your land and get it tested if you feel the need to ascertain what is best for the conditions. You will be surprised or disappointed when the results come out. You will then know what nutrients are short and what are in abundance, a necessary basic for a good harvest.

12              Patience, and emergency action when warranted is part and parcel here!

13              At present I am going through a patch where it has not rained here for 10 days. The wells are already dry in the West Zone, an unheard of situation in the past, but now common. We are NOT replenishing our water table and instead allowing rain water to flow into drains and finally to the sea, instead of retaining in our property to go down to the water table. If you have an area where you can direct rain water to say a small lake made by damning then that is good, it will seep down depending on the soil, or create a lake from where emergency water can be pumped. Rajarata has lakes specifically for this dual purpose, however in the Western Province no one thought our wells will run dry! Now they do and no one has yet suggested basins to allow for ground water refilling.

14              Intercropping is another use for land, especially for coconut land. In my property, I have had Cocoa Trees under King Coconut and Coconut. I have had Pineapple, and I am now putting Pepper on Glyricidia Trees. Each has their pros and cons and you have to do it properly, whatever is attempted.

15              PESTS is the biggest problem at the moment for me, with the Monkeys being cornered in small green patches like mine, and I have a lot of Porcupines that are destroying everything in their wake. I also have rabbit, and parrots that are also a problem, but they can destroy plants overnight if you are not careful and have taken adequate precautions.

16              Theft of produce is the next cost I have after Pests, as today’s price of coconuts mean I lose about a third of my crop to people illegally plucking and taking, and unless I have CCTV cameras it is difficult. I know a friend who had completely covered his WHOLE land with a high wall where NO ONE can see into to protect his agriculture, especially in an urban setting like mine it is a huge problem. This can stop pest like porcupines invading also.

So my friend, I can give you all the advice, but the simple truth is experience has no equal, and so just start small, now, immediately, don’t delay thinking about it, to see what grows and take it from there. You can drop into my place for a chat if you need to at any time, but most of all my SINCERE GOOD LUCK! In the venture you have just started on and it will feel like Bond Trading is simply a piece of cake compared to this. However the satisfaction you get in your heart in growing food to feed other people, NO AMOUNT OF MONEY can give you the sense of achievement and pleasure.

Best Regards