Jayampathy Jayasinghe / The Sunday Times , 2021-08-29
Extreme weather patterns that pervade the country have a devastating effect on agriculture and tourism with flooding and landslides that affects the poor and the marginalized and has a destabilising effect on businesses.
Seventy two percent of people in the country are involved indirectly in agriculture. Globally climate change is expected to drastically reduce crop yield by the end of the century resulting in serious food security issues. It will also result in social instability in the country, said Dilhan Fernando, CEO of Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company at a webinar on the topic of “The Business Case for Climate Change Adaptation for Agribusinesses.” The event was organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
He said the green economy is overtaking the fossil fuel industry estimated globally at US$8 trillion. Agriculture business in the plantation sector has changed in an unprecedented way by using the same soil for more than 150 years. “But we have the tools and knowledge to act in harmony with nature to revive it. The cost of mitigating the climate change is less than confronting it,” he said quoting a report.
Rohan Fernando, Managing Director Aitken Spence Plantation Management Plc said that Elpitiya Plantation managed by Aitken Spence has a comprehensive and a robust strategy to manage climate change and sustainability for the past 15 years. “We have an agriculture and processing strategy that includes water retention and harvesting rain water to improve the soil to ensure to get the best results from fertiliser. We have harvested 450 million litres of rain water to manage drought and have reduced the application of chemicals by 80 percent in our estate and supplementing with biological methods. We are also educating workers on conserving water and to reduce wastage and increase green cover in our estate for retention of water. Renewable energy such as installing hydro and solar power and planting with Bamboo is another method to mitigate the climate change,” he said.
Ms. Shea Wickramasingha, Group Managing Director – CBL Group said that Sri Lanka has poor infrastructure for agriculture storage. “We work with small farmers to give them a guaranteed price for their produce. While there are many challenges farmers encounter during a drought we focus on training them at ground and extension level on water conservation. Our model is based on backward integration level and also to provide them with weather information from UNDP sources. It is necessary to give them the tools to overcome these setbacks,” she said.
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