Kithul generates over Rs. 50 Billion to national income annually – Minister

Mahinda Amaraweera - Kithul

Annual contribution to the country’s national income through the Kithul industry is more than Rs.50 billion, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.

The Minister visited a number of villages in Eheliyagoda and Ratnapura, Rathganga areas to address issues of traditional Kithul manufacturers.

The Ministry’s SAPP project had carried out a special programme to develop the Kithul industry in the Rathnapura District.

Kithul manufacturers in these villages presented facts to the minister regarding the impact of the Toque monkeys on the kithul industry.

The Kithul industry has faced a troublesome situation with toque monkeys destroying their effort in a moment by breaking the cut kithul flowers and destroying the toddy pots hanging on them so that they cannot get even one bottle of kithul treacle a day.

Industrialists also said that they are doing this destruction in those areas. Therefore, they asked the minister to somehow end this destruction.

Kithul treacle, Kithul jaggery and Kithul toddy produced under the Eheliyagoda Kithul Production Project are currently being exported to four countries including the United States of America, Dubai, Switzerland and North Korea.

The country’s income from the entire kithul industry is over Rs.50 billion.

Commenting on the damage caused by the toque monkeys, the minister said that a private company in China has made a request to provide toque monkeys for their zoos. However, due to the objections of some environmental organizations, the work order has been temporarily stopped, but a decision will be taken after resolving the existing legal impediments, the minister said.

“We asked environmental and animal welfare organizations to come up with proposals to prevent the damage caused by toque monkeys. The solutions given by some of them are things like hanging sarees around the cultivation areas, subjecting them to surgery, and introducing birth control methods for toque monkeys. Some said that half an acre of every farm cultivated by the farmers should be set aside for food for the toque monkeys.

“These solutions are not practical.Therefore, we are working to provide some solution to this problem. We do not have the power to send toque monkeys to China. A committee should be appointed to find out whether a request made by a Chinese company can be implemented. The decision should be taken based on the recommendations of the committee. However, a solution to this problem must be found,” the Minster said.

“The last solution will be culling them like what other countries do. But instead of doing that, if we can fulfil the request made by some countries of the world to give them to their zoos, the lives of our toque monkeys will not be harmed,” he said.

“Estimates revealed that the value of the damage to crops in Sri Lanka exceeds Rs. 31,000 million annually due to the damage caused by toque monkeys. However, we as the government have to follow some procedure to control the toque monkey population. The minister also mentioned that we will implement the programme soon,” he said.

(Source: Daily News)