Ministry of Agriculture: Ministers and Officials

From TobaccoUnmasked

Background

Agriculture plays a major role in the economy and nutrition of Sri Lanka. The Ministry of Agriculture in Sri Lanka is the government (GoSL) authority over agricultural activities in Sri Lanka. They state their vision as “A vibrant and dynamic agricultural sector for food security and national prosperity”. Minister of Agriculture is the Head of the Institution and the final decision maker with related to policy and implementation issues on agricultural activities in Sri Lanka.[1]

Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC), the British American Tobacco (BAT) subsidiary in Sri Lanka has a monopoly in cigarette manufacturing and trade in Sri Lanka. Boasting about a "leaf to cigarette" manufacturing process and interested in domestic cultivation of tobacco, CTC has targeted Sri Lankan Agriculture Ministers, irrespective of which political party or the government they belonged to. Examples of such influences in the new Millennium are mentioned below.

Year 2001 to 2004

  • Government - 5th Parliament of Democratic Socialist Republic (DSR) of Sri Lanka.[2]
  • Head of State - Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.[3]
  • Ruling Party - United National Party[4]

Minister – S. B. Dissanayake

Political Party – United National Party[5][6]

Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) and the Ministry of Agriculture jointly conducted a series of programmes to share best practices in agriculture for local non-tobacco growing farmers in 2003, reportedly at the request of the then Minister of Agriculture S.B. Dissanayake. According to the “Daily News”, the state owned national newspaper, three such programmes had been conducted in Sigiriya (for onion farmers), Kandapola and Hanguranketha (for vegetable farmers), in order “to achieve the government's agricultural vision of ‘Regaining Sri Lanka’ initiative".[7][8][9][10]

S.B. Dissanayake contested the Parliamentary elections from the Nuwara Eliya district where both Kandapola and Hanguranketha are located in, while Hanguranketha being his own electorate.[11][12]

Year 2004 to 2010

  • Government - 6th Parliament of Democratic Socialist Republic (DSR) of Sri Lanka[13]
  • Head of State - Mahinda Rajapaksha[14]
  • Ruling Party – United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (Eksath Janatha Nidahas Sandhanaya)[13]

Minister – Douglas Devananda

Political Party – United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance[15][16]

Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) and the Ministry of Agriculture jointly conducted a series of programmes to share best practices in agriculture for local non-tobacco growing farmers in 2003, reportedly at the request of the then Minister of Agriculture S.B. Dissanayake. CTC launched another series of “Agro Best Practices Sharing Programmes” for local farmers in 2004. The first of three such programmes was conducted in Wellawaya for local farmers. According to “The Island” newspaper, the other two were planned to be held in Badulla and Polonnaruwa for local non tobacco growing farmers.[9][10]

Minister - Anura Kumara Dissanayake

Political Party - Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People’s Liberation Front)[17]

CTC sponsored renovation of water tanks in agricultural areas in the 1000 Tank Development Programme implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture (Image 1).[18][19] For more details please visit the page Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

Image 1: The plaque commemorating the re-opening of the Slivathgama Tank on 17 December 2004. The development was under complete financial sponsorship of the CTC whereas manual labour was provided by the local farmers. The politicians mentioned in the plaque were; Anura Kumara Dissanayake (Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Land and Irrigation), Janaka Bandara Tennakoon (Provincial Minister) and Sujatha Alahakoon (Member of Parliament)

Minister – Hemakumara Nanayakkara

Political Party - United National Party[20]

CTC financially contributed to the “Api Vavamu Rata Nagamu” – Let us grow and develop the country programme of the Ministry of Agriculture.[18][19] For more details please visit the page Hemakumara Nanayakkara.

Image 2: A banner displayed at the Dikkapitiya paddy field Baddegama South by the Mavbima Svayan Poshana Padanama. According to the banner the field is cultivated from “new technology” used under the sponsorship of CTC. The project is reportedly implemented under the leadership of the Agriculture Minister Hemakumara Nanayakkara to encourage the government’s agriculture development programme titled “Api Vavamu Rata Nagamu”

Year 2010 to 2015

  • Government - 7th Parliament of Democratic Socialist Republic (DSR) of Sri Lanka[13]
  • Head of State - Mahinda Rajapaksha[14]
  • Ruling Party – United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (Eksath Janatha Nidahas Sandhanaya)[13]

Minister – Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena

Political Party – United People’s Freedom Alliance[21]

Sustainable Agriculture Development Programme (SADP) was a social investment project of CTC. The Minister promoted the programme by;

  • Participating the Farmer Appreciation Awards ceremony of CTC[22]
  • Visiting SADP families to ‘encourage’ them (Image 3) [23][24]

In June 2017, another Member of Parliament, Buddhika Pathirana, criticised his involvement in CTC's CSR activities during a Parliamentary Debate.[25]

However, at the beginning of his term in 2011, he publically stated that government will ban tobacco cultivation and encourage the tobacco farmers to grow food.[26]

Image 3: Newspaper article reporting Minister Mahinda Yapa Abegunawardena’s visit to SADP families[23]

Year 2015 to 2020

  • Government - 8th Parliament of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.[27]
  • Head of State - Maithripala Sirisena.[28]
  • Ruling Party - United National Party[29]

Minister – Duminda Dissanayake

Political Party – United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA)[30]

Duminda Dissanayake attended to the opening ceremony of Sustainable Agriculture Development Programme (SADP) event in 2016 in Anuradhapura, a project by Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC). However, media reported that he spoke in favour of the proposed ban on tobacco cultivation at the event and declared that tobacco cultivation would be stopped in the future.[31]

The proposed ban was not implemented as of June 2020 and related details can be found in the page Attempts of Ceylon Tobacco to Sustain Tobacco Cultivation in Sri Lanka.

Image 4: Newspaper article reporting Minister Duminda Dissanayake’s participation to the SADP event by CTC.[31]

Tobacco Unmasked Resources

Other relevant TobaccoUnmasked entries:

TobaccoUnmasked_Sinhala
TobaccoUnmasked_Tamil



Notes

  1. Ministry of Agriculture. Website, 25 March 2015, accessed April 2017
  2. Parliament of Sri Lanka. Duration of Parliament, undated, accessed April 2020
  3. Parliament of Sri Lanka. Head of State, undated, accessed April 2020
  4. Department of Elections. Composition of Parliament- 2001, undated, accessed April 2020
  5. Parliament of Sri Lanka. Directory of Members, undated, accessed April 2020
  6. Daily News. New Ministers, 13 December 2001, accessed April 2020
  7. Daily News. Agriculture Ministry, CTC take farming best practices to the hills, 17 September 2003, accessed April 2020
  8. The Island. Agriculture Ministry, CTC take farming best practices to hills, 14 September 2003, accessed April 2020
  9. 9.0 9.1 Daily News. CTC launches second series of agro best practices sharing programmes, 12 November 2004, accessed April 2020
  10. 10.0 10.1 The Island. Farmers to benefit from CTC’s programs on ‘Agro Best Practices’, 10 November 2004, accessed April 2020
  11. Census Codes of Administrative Units. Census Codes of Administrative Units- Central Province, undated, accessed April 2020
  12. The Island. A question of principled politics, 18 October 2001, accessed April 2020
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Sri Lanka Parliament. Duration of Parliament, 08 September 2015, accessed March 2017
  14. 14.0 14.1 Sri Lanka Parliament. Heads of State, 08 September 2015, accessed March 2017
  15. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments, &c., by the President, 10 April 2004, accessed April 2020
  16. Parliament of Sri Lanka. Directory of Members, undated, accessed April 2020
  17. JVP Sri Lanka. Website, undated, accessed April 2017
  18. 18.0 18.1 Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC. Annual Report 2009, 2010
  19. 19.0 19.1 Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC. Annual Report 2010, 2011
  20. Parliament of Sri Lanka. Hon. Hemakumara Nanayakkara, undated, accessed May 2017
  21. Parliament of Sri Lanka. Hon. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, undated, accessed May 2017
  22. Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). CTC rewards farming excellence at Farmer Appreciation Awards, 31 October 2014, accessed May 2017
  23. 23.0 23.1 Daily Mirror. Agriculture Minister Visits CTC empowered Weligama villagers, 17 May 2013
  24. Daily News. Agri Minister visits SADP, 17 May 2013, accessed May 2017
  25. The Parliament of Sri Lanka. Parliamentary Debates(Hansard), Official Report, 252(9), 17 June 2017, Accessed October 2019
  26. ColomboPage. Sri Lanka’s Agriculture Ministry to promote food crop cultivation among tobacco farmers, 18 January 2011, accessed May 2017
  27. Parliament of Sri Lanka. Duration of Parliament, undated, accessed April 2020
  28. Parliament of Sri Lanka. Head of State, undated, accessed April 2020
  29. Election Commission of Sri Lanka. Parliamentary Elections 2015, 2015, accessed June 2020
  30. Parliament of Sri Lanka. Directory of Members, 2020, accessed June 2020
  31. 31.0 31.1 Thisara Kamal. දුම්කොළ වගාව ඉදිරියේදී නවතා දැමීමට කටයුතු කරනවා, 03 February 2016, accessed January 2019