Friday, January 22, 2016

Agriculture Training – Drastic Policy Shift – The immediate need


Arguably Sri Lanka has the most unproductive agricultural base in the world. The costs of production are obscene compared to the level of pesticides and weedicides used! This make s mockery of eating poison, that has cost a huge amount to produce, where even Organic producers in India can produce for less cost. In short time for a radical shift. RAADICAL RAADICAL

Start with the teaching and research in Agriculture. STOP ALL AGRICULTURAL TEACHING AT UNIVERSITY. There is NO point teaching 75% women in the Agricultural Faculties just because that is the faculty they got into with their z score. NOT because they wanted to learn agriculture to follow a vocation as a farmer as their primary desire in life!!


There are so many agricultural training and research institutes in this Country, and they have patently not come together to give us the RESULTS WE NEED!

Gannoruwa, Mahaillupulama, Bathalagoda, Hector Kobbekaduwa Institute. We seem to have MORE PhDs in agriculture that the US department of agriculture, but we have not been able to solve the dilemma of an efficient, productive, profitable and export oriented (for select high value niche agricultural products) Agriculture System despite years of resource input, on reflection ALL wasted. 

High time therefore once and for all to get agriculture under one holistic umbrella which includes 1 day courses, 7 day courses, in house and external, diplomas, degrees, degrees, special degrees and even masters and Phd programs. This will then ONLY be littered with people INTERESTED I this subject from the heart.

I am running around trying to find the best seedling pepper to plant in my property, and I want guidance to ensure that I chose the right variety that suits my own climate, rainfall and soil pattern on  my land, and I am given the run around, and now have to deal with even Daya Gamage’s Ministry also, why a run around, if there is a one stop shop, that will direct me to the right body. For all I know there may be an expert in this topic stick in some University, that even the Ministry bureaucrats don’t know about, who could give the right answer to this problem.


I have been the only farmer in Sri Lanka that has simultaneously grown over 75 products in one time, in both the dry zone and wet zone and transported and delivered direct to my customers homes in Colombo, and none has repeated it! 

So with the struggle I have had to go from pillar to post, sometimes to all of the above to get advice in addition to the University, I realize farmers don't even have that advantage. 

I therefore suggest all training is funneled through a Central Depository, that knows what is the need, and can be a holistic AGRICULTURAL INSTITUTE catering to all levels of knowledge scatttered all around the Country, but every one on one page.

Some of the experts on one topic don't even know there are others in other places, where they can exchange their ideas with as there is NO central database of knowledge either. The resource is there, it is a matter of organizing all in a structure, that is done to achieve the National Policy, and I can assure you it may cost less than now, and achieve a far better result than now, and only people truly interested in the subject will use the resources of the state to take Sri Lanka to the next level that is needed if are both to meet the nation's food needs and have surplus for high value export.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

So what is this idea of two Boats only, that can use power for Whale watching?


I was asked why I would recommend two boats, (a suggestion in the previous blog entry) and two licenses to be auctioned to unrelated parties. I know if it was the same organization, they could use the same overhead and therefore reduce the costs to the Customer!

Well have you heard about MONOPOLY pricing? I believe that will lead to NO competition and exploitation of the visitor for personal greed only, maximizing the profitability of the organization. Steps to avoid a OLIGOPOLY Mafia too!

So what, let us say three boats have licenses, then all the marketing could be handled through one source, and people could choose which of the three boats based on customer satisfaction from the Web, and there could be differences in quality, price, service, insurance to passenger, food on board, sale times and different levels of comfort depending on which deck the customer is on. These levels of differentiation, can have different price points, that enable customers to choose what type of product they wish to purchase, even though only two or three operators are allowed to operate one vessel each based on certain maximum specified dimensions.

One assumes (that can be wrong and so adjusted) when there is this choice, the tourist, local and foreign will get the service he or she pays for. There will NOT be this element of touts operating to take people, mostly on foot, but also by three wheeler to the dock as is done at present. There could be a dedicated dock with parking and other refreshment facilities for the convenience of the tourist as you would have in other countries with SOUVENIR SHOPS of whales need I say!

Today’s practice is a sorry excuse for a squeeze, of the UNKNOWN (a tourist does not know until he goes throughout the whole process, what he is paying for!) that is simply unacceptable as the cost is quite high, and the likelihood of exploitation accordingly unacceptable. We don’t want tourists partaking in this telling others it is NOT worth the experience as they weigh the price and convenience and impression very critically these days. 

I do not believe the small man will be priced out of this, as he has the option of a boat without a motor, a lower cost approach than now, and possibly be able to give an experience the licensees don’t have. Anymore to say that currently it maybe a mafia or one or two who are exploiting the situation anyway, so that any concern for the little un, is just wishful thinking, and the only person been screwed is the hapless tourist getting short end of the stick, whichever option is chosen. Nothing to stop the VV Wealthy in their own yachts, for personal trip

Friday, January 1, 2016

Exploit and Kill the Goose that lays the Golden Egg – Sri Lanka’s economic theory in a nutshell




First it was Yala, then gradually the other National Parks, and now it is the Whales, and I don’t know countless other traditions, and skills have been killed off along the way in the Sri Lankan version of development.

We HAVE NOT still taken the simple step of restricting entry to Yala to just 200 vehicles and 1000 people a day. There is NO other way to obtain a balance between man and nature, and HOW you do it is up to Policy makers, whether it is by auction, a hybrid of lottery and auction, (remember then the lottery winners will auction their ticket to the highest bidder too) or some other method so that the animals and humans will both be able to enjoy the spectacle of GOD.

In the same light, it is only recently that we have begun to exploit the richness of the seas around us. GOD has been kind enough to give us the chance of allowing the greatest number of Blue Whales that are concentrated in one place on the face of the earth. What we do with it is up to man. This bounty is such that man has not found a method to balancing this windfall, without destroying it.

So who must step in? In all cases when man’s greed gets the better of him, that is when we need a state to mandate rules, so that this windfall is available for future generations too, and not just the present to squeeze every  ounce of life there is to from it, so their own self aggrandizement or riches! However one defines it.

It is with that in mind that I propose that the whole matter of Whale watching in Mirissa, just like dolphin watching and whale watching in Kalpitiya or Trincomalee, take some form of state intervention to ensure that this tourist treasure is managed for the greater good of man and beast!

What I propose is just one persons idea from a moments visit, and putting the heads of experts on the subject will better create a lasting and balanced solution.


Any number of sail boats with NO engines to be permitted in the area so both rich and poor alike can enjoy. For the armchair tourist from whom the dollar signs are most, two large ships be given exclusive rights, well regulated as to how they observe, and the proximity to animals. The license will be auctioned to two bidders who will then compete with each other for quality service and price, and they then charge for the daily outings, which will raise about Rs50M to the state coffers for the privilege whilst not preventing the truly dedicated rich and poor, in two hulled catamarans from enjoying the show. 

I am told that Sri Lanka boat builders have built the double hulled sailing boat in the picture that can just be moored on the whale watching site and stay in one place while the whales frolic about not disturbing the whales at all, and not creating waves of destruction, and waves on the sea that make the traveler sea sick either!   

The details and photos of the Mirissa Whale Watching Trip are shown in the Blog entry on 31st December 2015  

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Whale watching in Mirissa 31st Dec 2015 - Blue and Bryde Whales - here, there & everywhere

 This post is just to record some photos of today's trip @ Mirissa leaving from the fisheries harbor there.

I will follow up in a later post my observations on the usual failings of our tourism  industry bent on short term greed, in both being unable to make the experience unforgettable not just for the Tourist but also for the Whales.

If you are a whale in the water how would you like 40 boats chasing you whenever you surface. Is it surprising that the deafening sound of engines, much more amplified for the whales is a daily infringement of their freedom to roam the seas?

This is the greatest concentration of blues in the world and we just have no clue how to add value to that experience.

Just hand it to the Americans, and just see how well they will organize the show.

I have gone out to sea in Santa Barbara to see the BLUE whales when I was living and working there, and what a wonderful experience that was to both learn and show respect for the great est living creature on EARTH.

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 Do we have anyone who knows anything about Tourism running this product in this Country? I think not, and high time we do, before even these creatures decide enough is enough and get the Hell our of here, as they cannot take this abuse anymore!






Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A reflection of a year that has flown by and nothing personal achieved


The year started with hope for a new beginning, and I was convinced beyond any doubt that we were about to witness a historic change of fortune for Sri Lanka.

It happened, and I was witness to the taking oath of office of the Ministers of Govt. at the Presidential Secretariat on January 12th 2015. We had a stake in this transition for which we fought tooth and nail for 5 years and finally our efforts were rewarded.

From that point onwards it was downhill all the way. One word that comes to mind and screams at us, DISAPPOINTMENT

Taking over 6,000 calls from people of all walks of life from around the Country, I realized what it was that people looked for from politicians and I really did not like the type of Country, our Politicians had endowed to us.

People believed all their problems could be solved ONLY by politicians as there was no other way, except for the wealthy, to have what they wanted.

It may have been a job, a transfer to somewhere more cushy, a recognition of the work that had been put into the party over the years, redress for wrongful termination and political revenge, a contract for something or another, a position in a board with perks, help to sort out mistreatment at the hands of a superior, paving of a road, now that the power was in our hands, putting a kid into a school, asking for a promotion and the list goes on, is endless!

Personally being unable to satiate the needy (a dependent condition created by politics) my position as a Secretary of one sort or another to a Minister was just not worth the 24hr on call, no good words, just complaints about everything!

The relief of being taken out to get back into the productive world was immense. The realization of how unproductive politics is in Sri Lanka, was a shock. How the whole political system just wastes the national resources when so much needs to be done, convinces me that without any politicians this Country will have a hugely advanced future. Politics is only a drag on development NOT a catalyst for it!


This state of mind resulted in a total blackout of creative writing from which I am just emerging. I will spend next year in suggesting, and creating what a totally new Constitution for Sri Lanka MUST look like, as if the brain dead 225 would even have the time to listen and learn! Let alone comprehend! 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

AN ODE TO LIFE



Year
2015 ends,
Years passed
Wiser and older.
Experience emboldens
Apprehensions are numbed
Technology is harder to grasp
Clarity with which we see the future
Forces us to empower youth, the inheritors
Who’s fate is determined by our actions today.
Let us therefore handover to them to make decisions
Which affect them, and gracefully retreat into oblivion.
Our task is complete, engage the young, and encourage them
To embrace the undertaking with humility and sense of purpose
So that we face the New Year 2016, with optimism for their future,
Knowing that our time has come to be thankful for good health
Happy to have done our duty towards those who come after
Time to reflect on a life lived, how well is our opinion
No time for regrets, even though we may have some
Appreciate all that we have been through in life
Will on the young a glimpse of our past
So that our mistakes are not repeated
Think our goodbyes  to everyone
Lest we not see them again
Especially from offshore.
We take our leave now,
A duty accomplished
To heaven or hell
When called.
Amen



X’mas eve 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Is it any wonder that the State Universities in Sri Lanka should be abolished!

Yes that’s right! ABOLISHED. They are beyond resuscitation meaning they are DEAD, and no wonder the products of this system are unable to find remunerative employment except perhaps in one or two exceptional cases like Medicine, where the doctors can multiply their meager academic salaries by earning 10times that by moonlighting which is permitted.

As the article this morning see below for link shows (worth a read) the remuneration is fixed, and so an idiot academic is paid the same as a brilliant one, and so is there any incentive on the part of academics to go out of their way to teach, once they get tenure?


Not everyone is altruistic, who not caring for their pay checks has real concern for their charges, and therefore impart their knowledge to their students and hope they are able to grasp the conundrum of success, which means constant striving for creativity and innovation.

This again is the classic Socialism vs Capitalism question of lack of INCENTIVES and understanding Human Nature.

The students at Universities DON’T help their cause as they don’t seem to grasp the dilemma they are faced with, in a system that takes in the best and brightest and churns them in a ringer, and removes any degree of confidence and vision they enter with, leaving them shadows of their former selves when they Graduate into the outside world.

It is time for some radical thinking, NOT just putting some sticking plaster to prevent bleeding. We must begin with a more results oriented approach, if we are NOT to waste so much of the state’s resources which could be more usefully spent elsewhere.

The $64,000 question is how do you measure performance, and who do you entrust this measurement process on. In order to do this do you sell your Universities off to the highest bidder, or at least lease it for 50 years to a team who make certain claims that they can fix it. People are Human after all! Will they then just do what they want to increase their personal satisfaction? (wealth, power, following, psycho state) or will they work with the public good at hand?

These questions need answers if our economy is to grow, and we are able to produce the Human Resources of the future that the Country NEEDS!  

Another good article that should be read that covers creativity, a vital by product that MUST come out of the University system, which is currently STIFLED see below for link


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES ARE NOT THE ANSWER EITHER!


In my trilogy of blog entries before this, I was exploring the problem of Education and resulting employment and was concerned that even those enrolled in courses that are desperately required for Sri Lanka DO NOT SATISFY THE COUNTRY’S or their personal requirements, resulting in a huge waste for both the Country’s or their resources.

One of the comments was that the answer to this is having to pay for their education, so they will choose subjects where they are more assured of getting that needed job. Whilst I am in broad agreement that this will increase the probability of satiation, I am not altogether happy with the current system, where there IS NO PROPER BASIS OF ASSESSMENT OF PROGRAMS in Universities and many students and their parents are UNABLE to choose courses that will truly help in achieving the goals.

This problem is NOT UNIQUE TO SRI LANKA alone, and even in the USA where even a Masters Degree is not worth the paper, as there are many masters graduates who are merely FEDEX drivers, where their qualifications, DO NOT lead to jobs, it is important that students follow courses (some extremely expensive) with a level of probability of employment.

The most important point to note here is that they follow this course the day they finish sitting for their A levels and NOT after they get their results, something that is now possible in many private university systems. Further if possible my advice is to SKIP A LEVELS and go straight to follow the tertiary course, as you are likely to emerge with a degree by the time you are 20 and even have your masters by 22, leaving you with a headstart in the job market, but for which you are likely to be in debt for a few millions!

It is still better as you will be able by 27 to have paid your student debt, and have 5 years experience in your field, the age at which the State Graduate begins to look for the job!

It is therefore important that informed choices are made in the course of study leading to a qualification that you wish to have and a career you have SET YOUR MIND TO, and more often than not you are likely to achieve your life goals.

The other tragedy of Sri Lanka is that whatever you do, and whatever qualification you get, the level of remuneration is pitiful, to achieve the goals of marriage, building a house, and taking care of your family, without help from parents or relatives.

A minimum monthly income of Rs50,000 is required, and it is hard to get that in most jobs in the first 3 years of employment when one has the needed experience and qualifications in a chosen profession. No wonder then that the only alternative available is to seek employment overseas, even in a field far below one’s qualifications, as there is NO alternative but to go!


The challenge facing any Government is to match expectations with employment and economic policy must be designed towards achieving this goal. It is easier said than done when the MAMA TITIES have not been weaned to face reality from imagination!      

Monday, June 22, 2015

State Universities – A lottery only where there are more losers than winners


You enter a State University after 2 years of wasting your time before you do an iota of academic work, by which time your study ethic has disappeared and you are ripe to be exploited by an ideology that is completely outdated, namely the IUSF (JVP affiliated Student Unions that tend to dominate the system)

You struggle for a wasteful 4 year period, and earn a degree, at a University that does not prepare you to make you aware of what is available in the outside world, and you are effectively thrown on the scrap heap!

This is a severe shock to the system as your family tell you that you are so fortunate as one of only 1% of the best of the best in Sri Lanka to have entered university and obtained a degree, and you wonder why no one is giving you a job. Unfortunately the facts of life have NOT been taught at University, and no one like me will be allowed into the University system to tell you the facts of life either!

The IUSF students are busy agitating to ban private education. Why? Simply because, it is only those graduating from the private sector who appear to be getting the jobs, leaving only public sector jobs for the state graduates.

Then how do you get a public sector job? Yes, now with the increased income of state sector employees, the illusory benefit of a Public Sector job is even greater. I personally know many private sector employees are clamoring for the same public sector job, as they cannot handle the pressure of performance, of piece work, and productivity, being told that they have none of that in the public sector and don’t even have to come to work on time, as they don’t have a fingerprint scanner to sign on and can leave by 3.30pm to go home.

This compounded problem, means that offices of politicians are flooded with people wanting to be placed in jobs. Letters from Ministers and MPs and recommendations, saying they have been stalwarts of the party through thick and thin are dime a dozen clogging the arteries of government, everywhere you look. It is the manna from heaven, the “State Sector Job for Life with a Pension” that everyone is striving for!”

This is the third in a series of continuous blog entries that lead me to write this as a culmination of the trilogy. This same person who I met in the first entry is still sitting in the office waiting now for 5 hours, to meet the Minister, hoping that by meeting him, there will be some difference, and that he will get the job! There is NO way he will get what he wants, and his hopes will only be further shattered. I asked him over the weekend to send me his CV by email, and he did not even have the courtesy to reply to my sms, as I wanted to send his CV to some contacts in the private sector to see if I can help. So obviously he did not want a Private Sector job or even be considered for one, as some member of this family or his colleagues would have convinced him that, the NLDB is the surest way to achieve his goals, whatever they maybe and he should pursue the dream no matter what!

     It is time we wean our babies in Universities from their mother’s milk and teach            them a thing or two about the big wide world out there, that to succeed needs                courage and risk!     

Sunday, June 21, 2015

It’s the Z score stupid – enslavement to a number not a dream!


Following on from my previous blog posting on the inability of a course specifically designed to ensure graduates who complete this specially vocation related syllabus, to provide gainful employment, I would like to make the following observations and invite comment.

UVA WELLASSA University on the outskirts of Badulla was constructed on the premise that those who graduate from their vocation related courses would find NO difficulty in obtaining gainful employment in their particular field of study.

Thus, when I enquired from this graduate, if he had taken steps to search for employment in the related field of study, the answer was in the affirmative, and what was worse, was that his fellow classmates were in the same predicament. I am picking on ANIMAL HUSBANDRY specifically, both because I am a farmer with NO TRAINING in either Agriculture or Animal Husbandry. In many senses I would have liked to have had the knowledge these graduates have in this field, and to think both Agriculture and Animal Husbandry graduates are unable to find work in related fields and are looking in other directions is a tragedy in itself, especially as the state has paid handsomely to provide an education to them, at the expense of training farmers who are actually engaged in this same field, so that as a Country we will be able to develop a culture of those going into the above fields with the necessary tertiary degrees!

The reason as I have already discussed at length in my various blogs, especially www.villagerinsrilanka.blogspot.com is that the font of knowledge required in Agriculture and Animal Husbandry exceeds that required of a Medical Doctor or Specialist and if a University can train these people, so they are equipped with the technical knowledge needed for this purpose, we in Sri Lanka CAN REACH the next level in food production, namely that of efficiency, productivity, and optimum use of resources currently hugely wasted.
The specific example I quoted to the Graduate who spoke to me about his inability to get a job in Animal Husbandry was that the person who milks my cows is someone who has done it for 30 years, in the way he is used to and who will NOT change his ways. I know that just by milking techniques I can immediately double the yield, and with further improvement in the nutrition and feed, and basic care of the animal, again double the yield for a 4 fold increase if I had some practical knowledge, and expertise, to which I have not expended resources, and further with the right mix of animal double the output further, leading to an 8 fold increase from present!!!! That is the challenge facing us farmers, and that is the solution the state was expecting by producing vocation specific graduates.

The unknown factor here is if taking students in with the required Z score is the answer, or if there is a rigorous aptitude test needed to further supplement the Z scores, though I do know that there is some kind of selection based on aptitude too at UVA WELLASSA!

It is how we pick the raw material to follow the courses, and the University MUST take the initiative in placing ALL these students in paid employment with an element of practical experience