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Wednesday September 27th, 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 to have country pavilion at COP28 in bid for Climate Justice Forum

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Cabinet has approved the proposal by its Minister of Environment to maintain a country pavilion during the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28), to display “national level initiatives related to climate change”.

Sri Lankan delegates representing the country’s interests at COP28 in November are to present a proposal to establish a forum, with the aim of raising a “common voice” for the aspirations of developing countries in the global dialogue over climate change.

While attending COP28 to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change from 30 November to 12 December in Dubai, the Sri Lankan delegation is to present the proposal to the official body requesting permission for Sri Lanka to initiate a “Climate Justice Forum”.

The Cabinet decision said that the purpose of the forum is “raise a common voice regarding the aspirations of developing countries, together with countries that are more likely to be at risk due to climate change”. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s sex workers face false charges: Women’s collective

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s sex workers have faced fundamental rights violations including unlawful detention and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, a representative of the Abhimani Women’s Collective said at a conference yesterday (26).

“Following their arrest, sex workers frequently experience the infringement of their fundamental rights, including the right to fair treatment, due process and protection from cruel and inhumane treatment,” said a report by the Abhimani Women’s Collective.

Soliciting on the street is currently illegal under section 7 1 (a) of the Vagrants Ordinance which criminalizes ‘any person in and about any public place soliciting any person for the commission of any act or of illicit sexual intercourse or indecency.

This provision along with section 2 of the Brothel’s Ordinance, which criminalizes the aiding and abetting of the management of a brothel, has been used to arrest sex workers in the country.

However, many sex workers claim that they have been presented before court on false charges of drug possession and have been subjected to harassment by both Police and customers.

“When inquiries are made over our arrest, the police say that we have been charged with drug possession,” Sakuni Mayadunna, a sex worker, said.

“Prostitution is not legal in Sri Lanka, so therefore, sex workers will face problems,” Chief of Police in charge of the Child and Women Abuse Prevention, Renuka Jayasundara, said.

“However, every citizen has fundamental rights in this country. We have not authorized the Police to carry out actions such as hitting detainees or not providing a female officer. If those actions happen, a complaint must be filed.”

Attorney-at-Law for the legal aid commission, Ganga Somarathna, said that the legal aid commission provides legal support for such victims whose income is below 45,000 rupees and also for women and children. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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Sri Lanka to introduce social security system: minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Labour minister has said that they are set to introduce a comprehensive national social security system, covering all workers.

“The system will address the weaknesses of the current system and provide much-needed support to workers and their families,” Manusha Nanayakkara, Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment said on X (formerly known as Twitter).
He did not specify the details.

Nanayakkara also spoke of the need for robust social security when he met with exporters last week to discuss labor law reforms, boosting female workforce participation and attracting FDI.

Sri Lanka plans to reform labour laws for an export-oriented economy.

The pandemic and the economic crisis highlighted the need to improve the coverage of social security.

Studies have shown that Sri Lanka’s women are kept out of formal employment by childcare, elderly care and housework, as day care and elderly homes are either too expensive or too few.

The government imposed a Social Security Contribution Levy to increase its revenue last year. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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