Distinguished Invitees and the Executive Committee 25th AGM
President Chandima Samarasinghe being greeted by outgoing President Boshan Dayaratne
President Chandima Samarasinghe addressing the 25th AGM
A Smart Lockdown, the need of the hour?
Audience at budget forum
Members in parade at university grounds
Strategies for a Lankan Economic Recovery

WB Chief calls on multiple efforts for greater economic transformation

World Bank Country Chief Sri Lanka Chiyo Kanda 
  • WB Country Manager Chiyo Kanda speaks at Daily FT and Colombo University MBA Alumni Association organised forum — ‘Knock Knock 2022: The Doorway to Success’ 
  • Identifies agriculture, dairy and fishery as key sectors for inclusive recovery post-pandemic
  • Says information, resources, technology, partnerships can create greater transformation

World Bank Country Manager Chiyo Kanda this week called for multiple efforts and partnerships to create greater transformation in key economic sectors.

Speaking at the ‘Knock Knock 2022: The Doorway to Success’ forum organised by the Daily FT and Colombo University MBA Alumni Association, she noted fast-evolving agribusiness, dairy and fisheries sector are essential for Sri Lanka’s green, resilient, and inclusive recovery from the COVID pandemic. 

“The right mix of information, resources, technology, and partnerships coupled with experiences can create greater transformation among millions of people,” she stressed. 

She also said that the three sectors are not only essential to realise food security and livelihoods, but they also have the potential to scale up Sri Lanka’s growth ambitions through innovation and job creation. 

“The World Bank is happy to continue the support to the Government and people of Sri Lanka, and to help unleash the potential of the agriculture, dairy and fisheries sectors to enhance Sri Lanka’s export revenues, employment and food security in a sustainable manner,” Kanda said.

Sharing some of her recent experiences, the World Bank Country Manager said more successful transformation stories are underway to the lives and livelihoods of farmers in Sri Lanka.

“Out of the existing portfolio of $ 2.36 billion, 12% is geared toward the agriculture and, to some extent, fisheries sectors. We also recently conducted an in-depth analytical study in the fisheries sector,” she added.

A core principle of the World Bank’s agricultural support program is private sector-led agricultural transformation to connect smallholders to domestic and global value chains. 

Kanda said the World Bank has been working with the Government to help address some of these challenges and seize opportunities in the agriculture, dairy and fisheries sectors through investment, analytical and advisory services.

As of December 2021, a total of 371 matching grants worth $ 51 million was increased to $ 98.7 million of additional funds from private sources, in the form of beneficiary contributions and commercial borrowing. It also created backward and forward linkages to an estimated 55,900 small farmers.

“This involves stimulating private investments in agribusiness innovations. The matching grant scheme of the Agriculture Sector Modernisation Project leverages private investments in sub-sectors like shrimp farming, fresh fruit, and spices, using matching grants to crowd in private finance,” she pointed out.

She emphasised that these grants have already generated positive impacts for beneficiaries as well as the economy, which includes $ 20 million in new agriculture exports from farm clusters.

Promoting innovative technologies and climate-smart technologies, training, introducing new cash crops and facilitating marketing especially among smallholder farmers were underscored as key supportive initiatives by the World Bank. 

The World Bank Country Manager also said the Integrated Connectivity Development Project will soon be supporting new forms of climate resilient infrastructure that improve market connectivity and enhance supply chain and access to services for farmers through public and private investments in agricultural infrastructure and logistics.

In 2020, an in-depth analysis of marine fisheries, coastal aquaculture and ecosystems that support them, focusing on coastal fishery, offshore fishery, and coastal aquaculture sub-sectors.

“This analytical work aims to support the Government in prioritising investment and policy actions to enhance the welfare and resilience of marine fishing communities and fisheries contribution to the economy considering the COVID-19 pandemic and climate risks. It is expected that a final report will be launched by early March,” Kanda said.

In terms of the opportunities and challenges in the three sectors, Kanda explained that the agricultural sector is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and other threats such as degradation of land and water resources. 

“Extreme weather conditions have become a constant source of risk faced by farmers and fishers alike. Growing population and declining quality of natural resource base has also created significant pressure on biodiversity,” she pointed out.

She suggested transformation in the agriculture sector into a modern and commercially diversified sector of high-value products, which remains the key to creating jobs, delivering nutritious food, generating export revenues, and bringing prosperity to rural areas.

Given the high dependence on dairy imports, she said the Government has made demand-side interventions time-to-time to cater the consumers from price fluctuations.

“The Government interventions have helped increase the share of domestic dairy production in the total supply. However, fluctuations in the world market and vulnerabilities of the domestic production system continue to affect the availability and access to milk and dairy products in Sri Lanka,” she added.

Cautioning on the endangering coastal ecosystems, she stressed and degraded from habitat destruction and pollution, directly contributing to the decline of certain stocks.

The World Bank Country Manager also said Sri Lanka’s fleet is not well-equipped to prevent post-harvest quality deterioration during long trips at sea, reducing the amount of exportable fish catch.

However, she noted that the growing global and local demand for seafood offers an important opportunity for Sri Lanka to sustainably expand aquaculture production, employment, and business opportunities for the private sector.

“Sustainable and resilient growth of Sri Lanka’s aquaculture sector depends on smart zoning with clear and consistent regulations, new knowledge and technology, and support to de-risk private investment. Modern technology and an ‘Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture’ can intensify aquaculture to increase outputs and revenues, while reducing environmental impacts,” she said.

She reiterated that increased collaboration and partnerships for a green, resilient, and inclusive agriculture, dairy, and fisheries sectors is essential with consistent and concerted efforts from both public and private sectors working together with other partners in development.

Pix by Upul Abayasekara and Ruwan Walpola

SL needs fundamental mindset transformation towards agriculture: CB Chief

Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal  


  • Says general perception of farmers and fishermen are ‘poor or piteous’
  • Points to agriculture as significant contributor to GDP, recognised as thrust sector   
  • Calls on experts to find new ways to step up agriculture, dairy and fisheries exports
  • Asserts healthy dialogues could help to fashion policies to develop sectors

Sri Lanka should uproot the “poor and petty” mindset often referred to the agriculture sector and people engaged in the industry, to embed the entrepreneurial streak, Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal said.

Speaking at the ‘Knock Knock 2022: The Doorway to Success’ forum organised by the Daily FT and Colombo University MBA Alumni Association on Tuesday, he said Sri Lanka needs to have a structural change in the mindset of the agriculture industry.

“We often refer to fishermen or farmers, as poor fishermen and small farmers. When referring to the dairy farmers, it is always with a piteous mindset. 

“This is the attitude we have towards them. In case, one refers to the farmers or fishermen ‘rich’, we often ponder whether they are into some other business,” Cabraal explained. 

He also said that in developed countries a lot of wealthy people are engaged in the agriculture and fisheries industries. Accordingly, they own multi-day boats, farming machinery and equipment whilst engaging in the corporate world as entrepreneurs.

“By and large, we are comfortable in thinking that fishermen and farmers should be poor. But I think a fundamental transformation in the mindset is necessary to advance the industries,” Cabraal said. 

The Governor also said that agriculture has been a significant contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has been recognised as a thrust sector for development.

Acknowledging the timely topic, he called on the many experts gathered to find new ways to step up agriculture, dairy and fisheries exports.

“Despite being an island, we still import fisheries products. This is something to ponder and find new avenues to increase yield and exports with value additions,” he said.

In addition, the Central Bank Chief said the healthy dialogues of the forums could help to fashion policies to develop these sectors.