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Sunday October 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka cultivates Australian ‘Hass’ to boost exports, dollar revenue  

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Agriculture has initiated a program to cultivate Australian ‘Hass’ avocado varieties with the aim of boosting foreign earnings through more exports, an agriculture ministry said.

Compared to local green avocado, Hass is larger in size, matures faster, and has high production rates, along with a longer shelf life, which is crucial for perishable goods exporting, the official said.

“Under the agricultural sector modernization project, we are currently cultivating the Hass variety and hope to expand it further,” Dharma Wanninayake, Agriculture Ministry Media Secretary, told EconomyNext.

According to the Agriculture department, the Hass avocado has high nutritional and medicinal value, containing around 10 percent fat.

The average weight of the fruit is about 275-375 grams, and the rind of this variety is thick, making it resistant to fruit fly damage, with low post-harvest damage.

Apart from being consumed as a fruit, the Hass variety is also being used to produce avocado oil and butter.

Around 300 seeds have been planted and are in the process of budding to ensure a faster harvest.

“Initially, we have chosen 200 acres of land in Badulla district for avocado cultivation,” Wanninayake said.

“We expect to produce value-added products from this and the target is to introduce this to entrepreneurs in this agriculture field.”

On average, a single Hass avocado tree produces around 200 kilograms of fruit per hectare with the first harvest expected in 2026.

Sri Lanka has been desperate to boost its export earnings and fresh fruits have been long considered as one of the sources to boost exports. The island nation already exports a significant volume of tea, coconut, cinnamon, and rubber. (Colombo/Mar 09/2023)

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Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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