THE GENERAL ELECTION OF 1956 Part 4E
Posted on March 8th, 2021

KAMALIKA PIERIS

One of Philip’s great success stories was potato farming in Nuwara Eliya. This had been tried before and failed.  The MEP government wrote off the debt on this failed attempt and tried again with better seed potatoes. The trial was a complete success, and a potato research station was established in Rahangala.

In 1957 Philip reported that sugar cane production was begun on a large scale in Kantalai. This was the first time that lift irrigation on a large scale was being used in Sri Lanka.  In 1958 Philip reported that the sugar factory was also coming up.

Philip also started pineapple, coffee, cocoa, tobacco and cotton plantations. Pineapple was tried in Gampaha area, where the soil is suitable. Cocoa in Matale, Badulla and Koslanda, tobacco in Jaffna and Uva. Philip said that a citrus specialist from Australia had been surprised that we were not using the local varieties which will be more resistant to disease, unlike the imported varieties.

A large cotton farm was planned for Hambantota, in the area between Walawe and Kirindi oya, said Philip. We have developed a variety of cotton suitable for the area.  It is purchased at a good price by Wellawatte Spinning and Weaving Mills. Area under cotton was expanding as the villagers earned more by cultivating cotton. We propose to open a fairly large cotton farm in Ridiyagama area with Russian assistance, continued Philip.

G.T.Dharmasena recalled that in 1956, Lakshman Rajapaksa, MP for Hambantota and Deputy Minister for Commerce and Trade had in 1956 set up a cotton processing factory at Mirijjawila near Hambantota to encourage cotton cultivators in Hambantota and Monaragala. Cotton was a popular crop in Hambantota and Monaragala. Cotton was cultivated under rain-fed conditions. This factory functioned satisfactorily and it started processing their home grown cotton. It was set on fire by the JVP in 1971.

In dairy farming, Philip reported that they had experimented with crossing the Sinhala Cow with the Jersey and Frisian cows. The most successful match was with Jersey. The animal is larger than the Sinahla cow but not as large as Jersey. Milk yield was fairly satisfactory.

Philip improved the distribution of milk. Most of the milk went waste since the producing areas were so far from the towns and in a tropical climate milk soon goes bad. Therefore Philip set up two pasteurization plants in Gampola and Nattandiya where 10,000 pints of milk were collected daily, from producers. Milk Board planned to set up two more plants at Polgahawela and Kotagala.

The Milk Board in 1958 launched a programme to popularize milk drinking, and to increase the supply to those areas which were ready to drink milk. The Board planned a chain of six feeder units for collection, processing and storage at Nattandiya, Gampola and Welikanda, with Kotagala, Polgahawela and Galle to follow. The Board also up the Colombo Central Dairy with Colombo Plan aid, to serve the Greater Colombo district.

An American NGO, CARE, had been invited by the UNP government to distribute milk powder. CARE was an acronym for Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere’. Philip objected to CARE distributing milk powder. It could be done by local agencies. Also what was the need for CARE to set up an office here, for the mere supervision of the distribution. Why  did the previous government allow a voluntary  organization to set up a branch office in Ceylon. Philip was suspicious. ‘I fear the Greeks  even when they offer gifts ‘ Philip  tried to change the agreement ,but  found that was not possible. ‘I looked,’  he said. ‘( Continued)

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