24 August, 2019

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SL’s Future Depends Not On Outdated Feudalistic System But On Becoming Partner Of A Digital Economy

By W A Wijewardena

Dr. W.A Wijewardena

Calling Sri Lanka an agriculture-based country is a misnomer

A widely-held view by many Sri Lankans is that Sri Lanka was an agriculture-based economy in the past and it should be so even in the future.

The first part of this argument is only half-true. The second one has been presented without proper understanding of how economies are being framed in the future. A clue to this second one was given by a young researcher attached to the Institute of Policy Studies or IPS – Kithmina Hewage – in a recent interview with Biz-in-Focus hosted by a popular television channel in the country (available here ). The young researcher revealed that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is in its full swing now with its main ingredients involving artificial intelligence, robotisation and adoption of ITC for production, distribution and consumption. If Sri Lanka does not attune itself to this new wave, the result will be catastrophic for the island economy.

Sri Lanka created prosperity in the past via trade

From ancient times, Sri Lanka was a country which had depended on both agriculture and trade for prosperity. Even prior to the colonisation of the island by migrants from India, there is evidence that it was visited by traders who had brought goods from the rest of the world and taken away the produce bought from local residents, the two main functions of trade.

According to the Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka – Mahavamsa – Prince Vijaya and his attendants had been served with a rice meal by local princess Kuweni having cooked it out of rice salvaged from ships that had been sea-wrecked. Though the country had cultivated grains and other essential food items within the island by using man-made irrigation schemes, such production had run into shortages very often prompting it to import them from India and Siam, now known as Thailand.

Hence, the country sustained its prosperity by tapping in to its location advantage of being on a convenient naval route that had connected the East with the West. Accordingly, the goods produced in all the countries in the naval route had been brought to Sri Lanka, stored in trading centres and sold at a profit to visiting traders.

In modern times, this trade is known as ‘entrepot trade’ in which trading centres like Singapore and Dubai have been specialised today. As reported by the Egyptian geographer Idris, during the reign of the King Parakramabahu I from 1153 CE to 1186, alcohol had been brought to Sri Lanka from a land known as Arak. The King had bought all that alcohol and established a monopoly in the commodity. Then, it had been resold to traders at prices fixed by him.

During the Portuguese and the Dutch periods, the same trade pattern had continued since that was the lifeline of the island. During the British period too, the country depended on foreign trade for sustenance and prosperity with the exception of three tree crops – tea, rubber and coconut – being introduced as the country’s new export products. Till about mid-1980s, the country’s economic structure depended on these three crops.

A promising economy at the time of independence

When Sri Lanka became independent from the British in 1948, in comparison to other South Asian countries, it was a nation of promise envied by its peers. The British had left the nation with a well-organised and well-disciplined civil service that could serve the nation as its main pillar of economic growth. It had inherited from the British a massive volume of foreign exchange assets sufficient for paying for 17 months of future imports.

The country’s indebtedness which has been the bane of the nation today had been at a very low level: foreign debt at 4% of GDP and local debt at 14% of GDP. The government budget was in a very healthy position with an average deficit of about 2% of GDP. The rupee was exchanged for the US dollar at the rate of Rs. 3.32 per dollar. Thus, Sri Lanka had all the prerequisites for a fast growing economy.

Having taken these favourable factors into account, a visiting World Bank delegation had recommended to the government in 1952 that, since Sri Lanka would not be able to absorb all the people joining the labour force through agriculture alone, it should take measures to develop both power and energy and industries. It was this recommendation that was ignored by Sri Lanka in the few decades to come.
Failure to continue with structural changes

After the open economy policy was adopted by Sri Lanka in late 1977, there was some structural change in its economy. The country’s reliance on the three tree crops for earning the bulk of foreign exchange (about 90%) and producing national output (more than a third) was reduced significantly. Instead, a new industry in the form of textiles and apparels was added to the country’s industrial sector thereby increasing the share of industry in the total output close to 30% and in export earnings to about a half of total exports.

Simultaneously, the services sector, specifically the banking, finance and insurance, on one side, and trading activities, on the other, was expanded significantly, making it an important contributor to national output as well as to economic growth.

These structural changes had helped Sri Lanka to connect itself to the global economy to some extent as it had done during ancient times. However, Sri Lanka had failed to take this momentum forward and be a rising partner of the global economy as many East Asian economies, notably, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and Malaysia, had done in the last few decades. Today, Sri Lanka is being threatened in the global markets by new entrants like Thailand and Vietnam. This unsavoury development in fact amounts to degeneration of Sri Lanka’s position from being a leader to a laggard in the global arena.

Challenges faced by textiles and apparel industry

The textiles and apparel industry helped Sri Lanka in the three decades beginning from 1980 to address many of the burning issues the country’s economy had been facing: provision of employment to rising labour force, supplementing foreign exchange earnings and making an important contribution to country’s economic growth. However, this industry is facing two challenges today. One is coming from within the economy domestically and the other from external developments over which Sri Lanka has no control.

Rising wage costs and eroding competitiveness

The domestically emerging challenge is the erosion of its competitiveness due to rising labour costs. Thus, it is losing markets to new entrants like Bangladesh and Cambodia which still are blessed with a pool of workers who are willing to work for relatively low wages. For instance, a garment worker in Sri Lanka expects a monthly emolument of about $ 200. In Bangladesh, a factory owner can hire a worker for half that emolument. As a result, Sri Lanka’s garment manufacturers are now shifting their investments to overseas destinations. With no new investments forthcoming, the textile and apparel industry will be a slowly dying force in the years to come.

Bazaar Effect making industrial nations just traders

The external challenge is the development of a new production system in the textiles and apparel sector in the global economy. This industry shifted from the major markets in developed countries to low-wage developing countries in early 1970s to take advantage of the low costs prevalent in the latter group of countries. This production process came to be known as ‘outsourcing’ or ‘off-shoring’.

However, as the German economist Hans-Werner Sinn presented in 2006 in a paper titled ‘The Pathological Export Boom and the Bazaar Effect: How to Solve the German Puzzle’ published in The World Economy, the outsourcing process has resulted in converting developed countries to Bazaars that do only trading and not manufacturing. The result has been the loss of manufacturing employment from the developed world to developing countries. The discontent among the voters in developed countries has been successfully exploited by the crafty politicians who have now waged war against outsourcing of industrial production to the developing world. ‘Trumponomics’ coming to prominence in USA today is a good example for this emerging wave. The pressure exerted by the political authorities in the developed world to shift manufacturing industry back to their own shores is now gaining ground and it cannot be ignored anymore by the manufacturers in that part of the world.

On-shoring and near-shoring of the textiles and apparel industry

In the case of the textiles and apparel industry, this has been facilitated by new developments in automation and artificial intelligence. Accordingly, the textiles and apparel industry is returning to the developed world in a production process now known as ‘on-shoring’ or ‘re-shoring’ as against the previous ‘off-shoring’. According to a report published by Eurofound, a research arm of the European Union, in 2019 under the title The Future of Manufacturing in Europe, during 2014-8, a total of 146 cases of re-shoring has taken place in four major economies in Europe, namely, UK, Italy, France and Germany (available here ).

Location of production close to markets: near-shoring

There is another development that has caused the industry to get shifted to countries close to the major markets. In a report published by McKinsey Institute in 2018 under the title ‘Is Apparel Manufacturing Coming Home?’, it has been found that the need for having manufacturing facilities close to markets has shifted them to nearby countries in a process known as ‘near-shoring’ (available here ).

Since a garment product produced in Sri Lanka, China or Bangladesh takes at least 30 days to reach markets in Europe or North America, the transit time has been cut to 3 days by locating these factories in countries close to the markets. Accordingly, Europe is being served by on-shored factories in the UK, Portugal and Macedonia and near-shored factories in Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco. Similarly, North American markets are served by on-shored factories in USA and near-shored factories in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The McKinsey Institute has estimated that by 2025 about 55% of the global textiles and apparel trade will take place under the on-shoring and near-shoring production system. This is surely a formidable challenge to Sri Lanka’s textiles and apparel industry.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The world is entering today the fourth industrial revolution, a term coined by the convenor of the Global Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, by his 2016 book under the same title. According to Schwab, the world is now filled with new technologies like ubiquitous mobile supercomputing, intelligent robots, self-driving cars, neuro-technological brain enhancements, genetic editing and many more. These new technologies are changing the way people live, work or relate to each other.

The artificial intelligence and machine learning-robotisation will turn the present production methods upside down. Many will lose their jobs. Those who study today to get employed in a particular job in later life will find those jobs disappearing once they complete their studies. With machine learning artificial intelligence and robotisation, jobs will be transferred from labour abundant developing countries to labour deficient developed countries. Whether Sri Lanka likes it or not, it cannot insulate itself from the consequences of the oncoming fourth industrial revolution. All it can do is to prepare itself to face the new change and become an active partner of the global production methods.

The global production sharing networks

The emerging production method is that components for a final product is produced in a number of production units located in the same country or in different countries. Accordingly, no country is able to claim ownership to any particular product today. For instance, it has been documented that parts for iPhone 6 have come from 400 odd production units located in more than 40 countries, while it is finally assembled in a factory called FoxConn located in China. Hence, iPhone 6 can claim itself that it is a global product assembled in China. This is traditionally known as the global supply chain but the Sri Lanka born economist Prema-chandra Athukorala calls it ‘global production sharing network’ since the whole world gets together to share the fruits of such products. Sri Lanka’s future depends on how successfully it can join this network.

Need for acquiring technology

Already East Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam have become partners of this global production sharing network. The prerequisite needed by a country to join this network is the acquisition and adoption of high technology. A country can acquire technology by getting it from the rest of the world or developing it domestically. Sri Lanka’s present capacity to develop technology domestically is limited and therefore the country should acquire it from others who have developed it.

One way to get technology from outside is to buy it from foreign developers but it involves making regular payments to them. Hence, the more cost effective manner of acquiring technology is to invite foreign business firms that have developed new technology to invest in Sri Lanka or get into bilateral economic partnership programs.

A likely candidate for this is the manufacturing of a battery which is more powerful but smaller in size and lighter in weight to store solar energy for subsequent use and power all the electrical vehicles that would be the main mode of transport in a few decades. Given the present state of Sri Lanka’s economy, the attraction of this type of technology to the country is a must today.
Future is clear for Sri Lanka

Hence, Sri Lanka’s future depends not on re-establishing a feudalistic agri-economy but a globally connected high technology involving digital economy. Even to modernise agriculture, Sri Lanka has to introduce technology to agriculture. At present, it is only those who have dropped out of schools that have gone into agriculture today. It is necessary to equip this group with modern cultivation and farm management methods, both of which come from new technology. When the productivity of the agricultural sector improves due to the adoption of new farming methods, the average costs of farm products will fall increasing farmers’ profit margins. It will make farming an attractive occupation.

Join the digital economy

The digital economy is relevant to all economic activities in the country. Since it is the main pillar of the emerging economic system in the globe, Sri Lanka cannot ignore its presence. Hence, Sri Lanka’s future economic prosperity depends on how far the country is able to surf in the modern digital world and adopt high digital technology to its production methods.

*The writer, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, can be reached at waw1949@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 5
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    After a great part of Sri Lanka is in the digital technology, where will we get our food from? Let’s have 15% in the digital network, shall we? But it is essential is for 75% to be in traditional-agriculture. (10 % in varied occupations). Then our masses will not need to go to the Middle East to make up the country deficit, as they will be happily occupied tilling their farms.
    *
    It’s like the experts suggested one time, that we do power and energy industries. After the power and energy was created, what else was there to do than the apparel industry…..and for ME-workers to light-bulb and air-con their homes with the money they earned? Likewise, the robotic parts industry will also come to a grinding halt when humans run out of work. At least Sri Lanka will have her self-sustaining farms (without robots spraying GMO-feed).

    • 0
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      “Hence, Sri Lanka’s future depends not on re-establishing a feudalistic agri-economy but a globally connected high technology involving digital economy”
      The key to all this is proper education, not rolling out tie-wearing “administrators” who believe in the efficacy of bodhi pujas to bring rain. We must produce people who can think independently and rationally. We need a population that can see through the false prophets like Ratana hamuduruwo and won’t fall for fairy tales like “wanda pethi”.
      If this is not immediately possible, let’s go back to the ancient feudal system, complete with Rajakariya and blouse-less low caste ladies. A few years of that should remove any romantic illusions that people have.

    • 0
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      Although Sri Lanka is known as an agricultural country with a fertile tropical land suitable for the cultivation of a variety of crops, very unfortunately the present day politicians, ministers and MPs are clueless when it comes to agriculture and farming. The most affected group of people in Sri Lanka are the farmers. There is no support from the government for farming, even if they do have some kind of programs they are not promoted or advertised. The government officers who are supposed to provide advice/help the farmers are very inefficient, they don’t give any support. Even the basic fertilizer such as Urea is imported from outside and that also does not come on time, always in shortage. There is no proper price control for what the farmers produce, The wholesale market prices are not stable and due to the price fluctuation, the farmers are affected very badly. With very high labour charges, cost of fertilizer and many other factors like irrigation system, etc., finally the farmers are at a big loss when the prices go down. For example, if you take the coconut industry, there are times when the wholesale price of coconut had reached Rs.60 and other times it has come down to Rs.20. Why cannot the government have a price control, something like never exceed Rs40 and never go below Rs.30 (a controlled price fluctuation). This way, both the farmer and the consumer have some relief. This is the situation with everything that the farmers produce in Sri Lanka, most of the farmers have now become trishaw drivers and their lands are simply idling because farming is not viable anymore.

  • 6
    1

    Other than Singapore (which is not a country) , Hong Kong (which is not a country) and Dubai (which is not a country) which which industrial power (USA, Europe, Japan, China, India…) has given up its agricultural sector?

    Soma

    • 3
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      People who call themselves economists do not care about traditional foms of life no matter how healthy the life styles based on traditional agriculture and rural culture..

      These slaves of the western money based social system are trying to convert our societies in to these so-called innovative ‘economies’ without taking in to consideration the consequences.
      /
      These people are ignorant nd they should be given a more wholesome education instead of teaching them about balance sheets, cash inflows and outflows.

    • 1
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      somass

      Before you rush to ask a stupid question would you kindly consider giving us the definition of the key subject?
      What is your definition of Agricultural Sector?
      Don’t bull as usual.

  • 1
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    I think Dr. W has lost the plot recently. Has he not heard of a looming global food crisis , and food security ?

  • 1
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    World Bank Visited our Inhabitants in 1952 ,,
    How cool.
    Wonder how many Dalits were in the Government and what was the Dalit Population as a Percentage .
    I mean the dudes who were sitting in the Colombo Branch of the British Parliament who only spoke English wouldn’t have been able to do all that heavy lifting by themselves..

    This Digitizing the Mahavamsa Economy is a really Cool Idea too.
    Again how many of our Dalit population can do Artificial Intelligence?.
    I know Dr Ranil promised to give them assembly jobs in his VW factories.
    That would have been mre up their alley, if they did at least O levels .

    I heard that Dr Samy , Dr Ranil’s Second pick for the CB is also contemplating to give it away,
    But for different reasons.
    Dr Samy is worried that our Yahapalana Economic Growth will not even reach Two and a Half Percent next year.
    That is serious , No wonder he wants to quit.

    But Dr Ranil and his Yahapalana dream Team seems to be totally relaxed.
    In fact Dr Ranil’s Catholic Minister of Christian Affairs is organizing a Baby Elephant offering to Lord Kataragaman to ward off Dr Ranil’s Bad Luck.

    Strange .. Isn’t it.
    I mean Dr Ranil went to Tripathy Gods not long ago.
    I don’t know how much it cost our PAYE Taxpayers in Gold Atapirikara.

    I can understand If this Catholic Minister of Christian Affairs organized a VOW in Kochikade.to ward off Bad Luck from the Bible Belt..

    BTW, Is that hot fav among UNP Candidates , the UNP KId from Keselwatta any good in IT , which now focuses mainly on Artificial Intelligence, Cyber Trading and Cloud Currencies with those Block Chains?…

  • 0
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    How true. The driver for digitization can be the Central Bank itself. One of the features of a digital economy, I am told by a knowledgeable, is that it leads to a cashless society. Towards that extent how much do we promote cashless transactions. Forget all the Frime and other QR code and mobile phone related transactions, do even boutiques encouraged to have a machine capable of accepting debit cards? This is where the Central Bank can step in to stop odious rules of Banks to discourage the use of it by the small timers. Don’t we have to pay an annual fee for our debit cards. Dear Dr. WAW, please use your influences to go cashless for starters. Correct me if I am wrong Doctor, in India, rightly or wrongly, the MODI Government demonetized the highest currency note on account of electronic monetary transactions.

  • 3
    1

    If people read what Mr W A Wijewardena writes without preconceived claptrap ……… He, by any stretch of the imagination, is not suggesting SL should give up agriculture for modern-industry.

    Agriculture and industry can coexist side by side. One has to only go to Japan and roam around a little to realize that. Leading up to the late 80s Japan was the preeminent technologically advanced country ….. America put paid to that with The Plaza Accords. Japan has still not recovered from that. ………… Japan had no choice; Japan was/is a vassal state of The USA. …….. The Americans are trying the same tactics with the Chinese.

    What many imbecilic Lankans who just write here and only think with their lifelong frustrations and acute feelings of “smallness” ……… don’t realize is that Modern methods and modern machinery can be utilized in agriculture. If Lankans have a little imagination they don’t have to still use 2500 year old “traditional methods.”

    I don’t have the time to search ………. but there was some guy Malthus or some dude who had a theory that said the population increase in geometric progression and the food-supply increase in arithmetic progression. …….. American farmers proved him spectacularly wrong by applying modern farming methods and machinery to agriculture.

    Unlike Lankan farmers who produce barley enough to feed their own families, one American farmer can produce enough to feed many thousands ………. and that freed most of their population for industry and other tasks/jobs/employment.

    Mr Wijewardena is one of the very few Lankans who can even coherently articulate an intelligent way forward for Lanka.

    He should ignore all the distractions/noise and keep on writing these good articles ………. even if .00001% of the population get what he is saying Lanka will definitely have a good future ……..perhaps in another 2500 years.

    Where ever Lankans live, it’s hard to break through to their generations-long-Lankan-stultified minds …………….

    • 2
      1

      nimal fernando

      “If Lankans have a little imagination they don’t have to still use 2500 year old “traditional methods.”

      You must be a neo-con conspirator.
      How dare you ask us to give up our 2500 years heritage, history, ancient hydraulic civilisation, and whatnot? What is next? Do you want the people to give up on Sinhala/Buddhism and the ghetto?

      • 0
        1

        Dear Native,

        Namal Fernanado seems to me to be an Educated guy who is saying something intelligent and relevant to the situation in his ex Motherland.

        Why You do you drag Sinhala Buddhists in to this.
        Texas was built with Cow Hides,
        They still do a darn good job selling Texas Beef to Japanese and Chines.
        It taste the best on the BBQ..

        There are tens of thousands of cattle roaming the Fields in the North . And I have seem it.
        That 120,000 Acres which Dr Ranil has given to MCC seems to cover the herds there.

        When you get your Eelaam , you don’t have to worry about the Cattle.
        Vellala Treasury can just collect the Santhosam .

        • 1
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          KASmaalam K.A. Sumanasekera

          Did you really understand my comments and his responses?

          I am not sure he is “an Educated guy” but does a lot of wise cracking which you fail to grasp.

          By the way G L Pieris is a educated guy however he has been gradually losing his wisdom since he started lending his services to crooked politicians. I am not sure whether education has anything to do with wisdom or intelligence. I can give you plenty of other examples, educated fools, Navin Nayakka, Chana Jeyasumana, Champika, Nalin, ……………………………………….. Dayan, …

          “There are tens of thousands of cattle roaming the Fields in the North . And I have seem it.”

          Sorry I didn’t see your favourite cow catcher Dr Mervyn Silva PhD among the cows when I visited the North recently. Was he riding on Neduntheevu (Delft) stray horses?

          PS
          Excerpt
          Animal sacrifice row again in Sri Lanka
          R. K. Radhakrishnan
          https://www.thehindu.com/
          AUGUST 27, 2012

          “Last year, the Minister, Mervyn Silva, and his followers, descended on the Munneswaram kovil, and took away the animals brought there for an annual sacrifice ritual. This year, tempers are running high in Chilaw — a town just over 70 km north of Colombo on the West Coast — as Mr. Silva has again threatened a repeat of his act.”

          Have you now switched support to the Dr?
          By the way what did he and his goons do with those rustled animals?

          • 2
            0

            “I am not sure he is “an Educated guy” but”

            Native, Dunno what you mean by “educated” …….. If you consider GL, Dayan, … et al ……….. “educated” count me out: I’m definitely not “educated.”

            If ye call me a free-thinker I’ll consider it a minor compliment ……. and if Ramona also joins in I would’ve reached the end of my ambitions!

    • 0
      2

      Nimal, nimal…..Japan wasn’t merged with other countries. Now Sri Lankan with Ranil-Mangala is 100% going to be merged with India (India can’t believe it themselves ………previously they were in awe about the Island south of them with the Buddhist halo around it). We don’t mind the US. All hail to the US for coming to give us money. But we want them with patriots like Sirisena and Rajapaksa to run the show with the US.
      *
      Now Japan is less than 12 % of their land in agri. Ancient paddy fields have long been replaced with skyscrapers and stressful lifestyles (suicides rampant). And their agri. is the US-type, with GMO and Monsanto and things. Some are trying to do show and tell with ancient traditional agri.
      *
      Wijewardena never said nor implied that agro and industry should work side by side. He never even mentioned modern US farming. But he did say that traditional farms were are a useless thing.
      *
      No, we do not want modern US farming, where half the farmers are dying of cancer (far a greater percentage from the rest of the population). Rest are committing suicide. Only reason US started their modern type of GMO Monsanto farming is because they killed off their indigenous farming people, and now, no one know the ancient farming techniques of the Native Indians.
      *
      NO TO US FARMING ON OUR LAND!!! WE WANT OUR HEALTHY ANCIENT TRADITIONAL SYSTEM!!! Our people will have jobs then, and not need to go to the Middle East as manual labourers to balance out country accounts if the overly-huge digital industry does not take off. Get ready to don the amoday.

      • 0
        2

        But! We can of course modernize the agri with mechanical devices. It’s the substance that goes into the soil and on the crops is the problem. That has to be traditional organic.
        *
        A lot depends on if the country has money to put into this. It’s like they will use all mechanics, digitals and robots, and reduce the number of farmers. But remember, traditional farming also requires the traditional human touch, or the plants will know they are being bluffed and get depressed….i mean, we can sit playing music and things to them, but they are not stupid.
        *
        Anyways, if the farmers are reduced, they will be out of job, and they will be sent to the ME for sustenance, and country budget sustenance. And if farmers start going into digital technology jobs, then the digital sales to the global network will get affected due to overproduction (as usual). Ancient traditional organic farming is the key to keep our country stable. And we can also become rich that way, as the rest of the digital world will be craving our ancient grains.

      • 1
        0

        Ramona,

        Please read again (I urge others to as well) what you have written above …… and then read again what Mr W A Wijewardena has written. That’s a classic lesson in incoherence and coherence …….. that simply proves my point! You make things very easy for me, Ramona. :))

        You have no clue what you are talking about so in classical “Lankan-fashion” you have thrown around so many problems to confuse the issues. :)) Unfortunately, these are your personal problems; just hallucinations in your mind, and not Lanka’s problems. First sort out your own problems then you can start talking about the countries’ problems!

        Please forgive me for saying this, but you are one of the most confused, frustrated and insincere people I have ever encountered. What you write is not solutions for any country but therapy for yourself.

        In that aspect I pity you.

        • 0
          0

          Nimal, Nimal. I forgive you for your insults my son. (ok , I admit I did word a part of my above comments correctly, but I will explain below).
          *
          This is a paragraph of what Wijewardena has written:
          *
          //“Hence, Sri Lanka’s future depends not on re-establishing a feudalistic agri-economy but a globally connected high technology involving digital economy.

          Even to modernise agriculture, Sri Lanka has to introduce technology to agriculture. At present, it is only those who have dropped out of schools that have gone into agriculture today.
          _
          It is necessary to equip this group with modern cultivation and farm management methods, both of which come from new technology.

          When the productivity of the agricultural sector improves due to the adoption of new farming methods, the average costs of farm products will fall increasing farmers’ profit margins. It will make farming an attractive occupation\\
          *
          What’s he talking about Nimal? I believe he’s talking about US GMO-Monsanto. He’s also envisioning the use of robots to man the fields. Then there are the factory farms for livestock where the animals live in heinous states. Also there will be the modern vertical and hydroponic farms for food crops. There’ll be plenty of food of course, but all creating great depression in animal and plants, and hence humans.
          *
          But there are things like computers and satellite communication on weather that are already being used. But Wijewardena wants us to go beyond that. It is to start the digital economy first, and then, and only then, will the agri industry be considered. But once precious lands are taken yet again to introduce extraneous-to-Sri –Lankan-soil-industries, there won’t be much farmland left.
          *
          And with the modern drive with the Western-city-type LGBTQUIA culture which is promoted by current UNP, ethical agri will never take off. Traditional organic farming requires traditional human families to create the conducive atmosphere for plans and animals to survive and thrive in.

          • 0
            0

            Correction:
            ok , I admit I did word a part of my above comments INcorrectly, but I will explain below

            • 0
              0

              Ramona,

              As they say, it’s never too late to learn.

              So, first things first.

              Write on a piece of paper “COHERANCE” and stick it on your forehead.

              When anyone meets you, the first thing out of their mouths will be “COHERANCE” and that will remind you to be coherent! ……….. After 2500 years of that you’ll be fine.

              Then we can start discussing the rest! :))

              Don’t shy away ………. Native and I do it to each other all the time. ………. And “Coherence” is Native’s middle name with “Beauty” stuck-in somewhere in there.

              • 0
                0

                Nf,…..It’s beyond you, isn’t it.

    • 0
      0

      ‘applying modern farming methods and machinery to agriculture’.

      This can only be done when the farms are very big. This cannot be used to its full potential in our relatively very small farms.
      The scale of operations is important in benefiting from modern methods. This has still not been understood by our rulers. If the Mahaveli had been developed without breaking it up into small holdings, we could have been self sufficient in most agricultural products. Unfortunately, our politicians tend more towards votes rather than economic development.

      • 0
        0

        “This can only be done when the farms are very big. This cannot be used to its full potential in our relatively very small farms.”

        True.

        Then natural attrition (is that the right word, Old Codger? :)) ) takes place – even in America. A farmer will lease his neighbouring farms to attain an economically viable scale. Even Warren Buffett has leased out the farmland he owns to a neighbouring farmer.

        This happens (and should happen) in Lanka as well…… to some extent …….

        • 0
          0

          Nimal,
          I don’t know about attrition, etc.
          I’m still trying to get my head around Grandma T’s notions about LGBTQI plants being depressed . I wonder if same-sex plants are allowed to get married where our Grandma T hangs out?

          • 0
            0

            Ah! Ramona is one in a million!

            I just love her! ……….. will love her even more if I can understand her ………. or if she can understand herself!

            One had a girlfriend like that …………. a great looker to just walk away ……… Ah! sins of one’s youth

            One hour before I kick the bucket ……… shall confess all my sins to Native and absolve myself ……… try to enter heaven through the back-door; after all I’m a Lankan.

            Native would’ve become Pope by then!

      • 0
        0

        Ralph,
        *
        We ARE self-sufficient in most agricultural products. Unfortunately, our produce is sent to other countries to balance out economic deficits that the building of the modern Western-style megalopolis entails.
        *
        Build huge farm like the US (where animals and plants suffer, and eventually humans, due to the artificiality of the produce), and the masses of rural people will be out of work. They will have to go to places like the Middle East for hard manual to balance out the country budget, and to survive in the congested melgalapolis.

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    AI, Robotics & even basic computer controlled systems will certainly enhance quality, productivity & efficiency, therefore, widely used in manufacturing, agriculture & business but SL has currently no education system & a technology based curriculum to educate the current & the next generation to meet the hi tech needs. Particularly, the universities are unable to produce graduates of the calibre necessary in numbers for an advanced technical environment.

    Nevertheless, simple control systems for irrigation & temp. control, as well as, production methods based on scientific research & economies of scale should enhance the agricultural sector in SL. We can learn from many countries with hardly any natural resources, successfully engaged, particularly, in agriculture. For example, Iceland, although a barren land with reduced daylight half the year, benefits from thermal gasses & is one of the biggest producer of vegetables, all grown in temp. & light controlled greenhouses. In fact, Iceland is one of world’s largest exporter of Bananas. Similarly, the Netherlands is possibly the largest exporter of flowers. The success, from planting of seeds to harvesting & distribution around the world of perishable products, is managed by relatively simple control systems & communication which SL too can adopt.

    SL never had a technology based economy & many politicians had the vision of SL being a Financial & Business hub emulating Singapore & Hong Kong but no foundation has ever been laid to achieve those ambitions. Thirty years ago, China, a nation of cyclists, sought help from the world to establish a motor industry (only VW took them seriously at the time) but today, with more than 2.4 million sales per year, is the world’s biggest market for cars. Similarly, from relative obscurity in digital technology 15 years ago, China is the leader in 5G technology today. Unfortunately, in SL, we don’t have educated, nor, capable politicians who can establish the infrastructure for keeping up with evolving technology. Our politicians are shamelessly & openly interested only if they are able to benefit personally.

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    The field is still new to see the impact on Countries with Demographic challenges; particularly in relation to inequity in opportunities and wealth/income as well as Political Authority and Decision Making.Much of our employment is still with unskilled labor and in labor intense areas. It will be interesting to see how the Fourth Industrial Revolution pans out in South Asia. We might see some serious disruption in multiple areas (socially and politically). How we manage (or are allowed to) Knowledge will be the deciding factor.

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