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“Planters urge Govt. to lift Palm ban”

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Bhathiya Bulumulla
Bhathiya Bulumulla

Regional Plantation companies (RPC) have invested over Rs. 26 billion towards the expansion of oil palm cultivation up to 12,000 hectares but a ban on the industry has caused major devastation to commercial interests in oil palm cultivation, said Outgoing PA Chairman, Bhathiya Bulumulla.

Palm oil cultivation consists of just over 1% of the total area planted with tea, rubber and coconut, producing nearly 48,000 MT of palm oil annually, and saving much-needed foreign exchange, by reducing Sri Lanka’s requirements for edible oil imports.

“A decade ago, our industry was urged to expand cultivation of oil palm in Sri Lanka based on the long-running success of cultivations from the 1960s. These investments were made with the understanding of all stakeholders that the industry would expand to 20,000 hectares, of sustainably grown oil palm as it was a highly lucrative crop, with strong potential for import substitution.”

Despite a total absence of scientific rationale to support it, and all of the false claims having been debunked several years prior, the ban was made (by the then government) and this is still in place.

This is even though currently, the most profitable RPCs listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange are those which are engaged in oil palm cultivation.

RPCs incurred considerable expenses – including channelling precious foreign currency towards importing oil palm seeds and other specialized equipment. Most recently this included Rs. 300 million worth of oil palm saplings for nurseries, which became overgrown and have since been lost entirely. “There is no way for those companies to recover those investments.”

The questions that those who still insist on opposing this need to ask are: on what basis are you opposing this crop? What better alternatives can you offer? If you can’t answer these then why should your opinion be valued over the livelihoods of the entire plantation sector?” he asked.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022 – 01:00











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