Building up Our Industries and Creating Employment-  Perfume Making
Posted on August 29th, 2016

By Garvin Karunaratne

On my recent travel to Snowdonia in Wales, I happened to visit the Corris Industrial Unit.  What was most interesting was a Mini Distillery using many ingredients, including an array of spices, turning out special alcoholic drinks

I kept wondering  what I could have done if I had known this mini Distillery equipment when I was the Government Agent at Matara, in 1971,  when we were charged with creating employment for our youth.  Those were the days of the Divisional Development Councils Programme for which Dr N.M.Perera, the Minister for Finance had high hopes of developing employment for the youth.

Once I was traveling in  North India and I was charged with the task of buying some perfumes from Sugandhika in Lucknow. From Lucknow we were due to proceed to Sravasti on pilgrimage and I told our driver to take us to Sugandhika. It was a small sales outlet selling a special variety of perfumes, doted on by Indian damsels. What was most interesting was that the perfumes were all made in India itself. After buying some perfumes, I approached the staff and requested that I may be allowed to see their distillery- where the flowers will be distilled into perfumes. Out came an answer that defied me, theirs was a mini distillery, portable which was taken to the places where flowers were available and at that time the flowers were not in bloom. India has developed its perfume making industries on a grand scale.

At Corris in Machynlleth,  in Wales, I saw the two mini Distillery machines functioning in one large room. Of course they were not making perfumes which would have required more space. But that distillation equipment could have been utilized to make perfumes. It is called the DYFI Distillery, led by Pete Cameron ( telephone 01654761551.)

I quote from a Report I wrote for the Chief Minister of the Central Province, Hon Mr P.C.Imbulana back in 1993, A Programme for Self Employment Creation & Poverty Alleviation in the Central Province of Sri Lanka”

A Perfume making Industry can only be established in the Central Province  as this is the ideal climate area for planting flowers. In my stay of an year at Nuwara Eliya I got a good income from flowers that grew wild in my garden. After an identification of small scale machinery and a study of its feasibility the plans drawn for local production can also include flowers  to be processed into perfumes. This can be established immediately  with the flowers offered at Dalada Maligawa”( From  How the IMF Ruined Sri Lanka and  Alternative programs of Success, (Godages). My Report was accepted by the Chief Minister who immediately commenced implementing it at two Divisional Secretary areas, but the Programme was shelved with the United National Party losing the General Election.

My find of the machinery for a small scale distillery at Corris in Wales is significant and holds a great deal of hope to establish a perfume industry in Sri Lanka. If I had known of this machinery when I was the Government Agent at Matara I would have commenced a perfume making industry based on the flowers offered at the Matara Bodhi . I could  have found employment for easily twenty youths. The plan is extremely feasible and I would urge the Government to take immediate steps to get going with establishing  perfume industries.  in Kandy, with the flowers offered at the Dalada Maligawa (can easily find employment for fifty or more), at Anuradhapura with flowers offered at Sri Maba Bodhiya and Ryuwanveliueya-( this can find employment for thirty or more).

Once the perfumes are made the second step will be to encourage people to plant flowers and for a collection arrangement to be made.

On my world wide travel since leaving the Administrative Service in 1973 I have trailed behind lorry loads of sugar cane and manioc  in India and Thailand, lorry loads of flowers in Southern France.  Flowers are collected and transported to perfume making factories. France has developed a massive perfume making industry.

It beats me why we cannot establish a perfume making industry with the flowers offered at various temples. It was just the other day that a Pichha mal ceremony was done at the Sri Maha Bodhiya at Anuradhapura.

Often one hears that people are caught trying to take away Sandlewood from Sri Lanka.

It needs to be emphatically stated  that a perfume making  industry cannot be established in a piecemeal manner, with a stray perfume making unit being established. There is an essential infrastructure necessary. Firstly the Government must seriously take steps to curtail the import of perfumes by charging a high tax on all imports but this has to be done after good quality perfumes are made. If Sugandhika can establish a perfume industry in Lucknow without a permanent distillery, working on a make shift temporary factory, we can easily achieve it at two places, in Kandy and Anuradhapura because flowers are available in plenty.

Secondly the Government must establish a unit to attend to research and guide the factories that make perfumes in the Districts. My mind travels back to my days when I served in Kegalla in 1968 and 1969 and Matara in 1971 and 1973. The Government Agent was held in charge of the Powerlooms in the area and if I remember right there were five Powerlooms in each District and this offered employment to hundreds of youths, This was possible because the Small Industries Department had a Research and Helping Unit at Velona, at Moratuwa to provide the necessary expertise to the Powerlooms all over the island. With one master stroke, the IMF dictate of making us  follow the Structural Adjustment Programme in 1977 abolished all public sector effort at employment creation. And with that one decision out went Velona and our Powerlooms. And sad to say with that a country that was self sufficient with fabric and textile manufacture became a  country that imported all textiles. No one, then realized  that the IMF was playing the sinister  role of making all our Third World Countries indebted so that the countries  to which we are indebted can call the shots and dictate to us.

Making perfumes is a far easier industry than the Crayon Factory that we established in Deniyaya in 1971. We did not know how to make crayons, but the craze in me to establish a manufacturing industry from scratch made me direct the Planning staff to conduct experiments. This commenced initially in my Residency and when we required sophisticated equipment we took over the science laboratory at Rahula College from around six P.M. to mid night when our scientists, the Planning Officer in the katcheri, Vetus Fernando, aided by the science teachers did a myriad of experiments for close upon two months till we finalized the art of making crayons. It was easily comparable in quality to Crayola Crayons. The only difference was that each crayon was handmade, like most industries in China. The Minister of Industries Mr Subasinghe was surprised when I showed him a crayon, and readily agreed to preside over the sales commencing ceremony.  Mr T.B.Illangaratne the Minister for Trade too was mesmerized by its quality and authorized an allocation of foreign exchange to enable the industry to import essential colouring. He gave that allocation from the funds earmarked for the import of crayons. He had the capacity to understand that  our making crayons meant that we can immediately reduce imports- saving valuable foreign exchange.  It was a great industry run by the Morawaka Cooperatives under the leadership of Sumanapala Dahanayake, the Member of Parliament who was also the President of the Cooperative Union. This Crayon Industry became the flagship industry of the Divisional Development Councils Programme and the crayons were sold islandwide till 1977, the day when the IMF took control of our country and dictated us to abolish national planning, stop all public sector run industries, abolish the infrastructure already established for development, allow all imports and allow the free use of foreign exchange and dictated us to live on loans, which has paved the path for our country to become indebted.  Making the Third World countries indebted was the method by which the Third World countries were subjugated. This is the sad story unfolded in my book: How the IMF Ruined Sri Lanka.

The history of establishing the Crayon Industry has been highlighted to show the difficulty of establishing an industry. The other day I was searching to buy a step ladder  at Nawala and found that we make only a small percentage of step ladders. The rest is imported from Thailand and China. A country that cannot make its own step ladders can never establish its own perfume industry. At times I think I am wasting my time writing these ideas of mine.

If we could have successfully established the Crayon Industry I do not see how we can go wrong with establishing a perfume making industry.

We only need some foreign exchange to pay for the mini distillery equipment, which can easily be recouped from the sales that will be generated within the very first year.

Leaving development in the hands of the Private Sector, the recommendation of the IMF, means that we will never develop our industries.  The Private Sector aim is to make a fast buck like venturing on establishing Supermarkets. It is the public sector that has to take on the difficult task of establishing import substitution type of industries. Let this fact be engrained into the thinking of our leaders. It is my finding that the aim of the IMF is not the development of our countries. Instead, their task is to restructure  our economies to contribute to the economies of the developed countries. It is our Third World economies that run the Developed Economies by sending our foreign exchange to them in various forms like imports, funds for university education- many Universities in the UK depend on the funds charged from foreign students.  Most of our experts do not have the capacity to think of how the IMF  ruined our economies.

Let me hope that the ideas in this paper will be  read by people of worth, those who have the authority to do something to build up our lost industries and create employment for our own youth.

Garvin Karunaratne

Former Government Agent, Matara District

27 th August 2016






8 Responses to “Building up Our Industries and Creating Employment-  Perfume Making”

  1. Christie Says:

    Ever heard of Walla Patta mate. India and Thailand have planted millions and millions of trees. I had some plants and they all disappeared. One liter is US$ 50k.

  2. Sirih Says:

    Garvin, your thoughts are pure but there are elements in SL that is anti business.

    Famous locally made facial and body cream brand want to create good perfume locally and also help to avoid expensive foreign perfume coming to SL.
    I push them for this product and unfortunately, to manufacture perfume you need alcohol based importation licence. I set up 2 meetings with MR and he point blankly refused to issue the importation licence for Ethanol .
    Worst was he refused to give a reasons and later I found out that there is a ethanol mafia at work with MR getting kappams..
    I was so angry and saw this guy as a crook and I would say peoples trust on this guy is misplaced.
    He is a another low life and crook with out any idea what nation needs.

  3. Nimal Says:

    Thanks for the above article and very interesting.
    Good old days we too made money out of making perfumes.We must be 12 years old where we gathered jasmine,rose petals and even temple flowers from the trees from one devale in Kandy.
    What we use to do was spread hot fat over sheets of glass and when they solidify the next day we lay the petals on the solidified fat and sandwich the petals with the second glass plate with the solidified fat.After school we run up to the devales and get more petals of the temple flowers and jasmine and rose petals from our own gardens.After three or four changes of petals the fat has absorbed the spells of the petals.we scrape the fat off the glass plates and desolve in alcohol and then with eather(hope spelling is right)

  4. plumblossom Says:

    It is high time that a new political party is created. The symbol can be the ‘mal pohottuwa’ as just prior to the general election, a new political party was registered under this symbol. All those SLFPers who are totally fed up with this treacherous yahapalayana government can then join this new political party.

    It is best to do this as soon as possible in order to get ready for the local government elections, to counter the treacherous OMP Act, to counter VAT increases, to counter the low prices offered to rice farmers, tea growers, rubber growers, to counter any attempt to provide any more powers to provincial councils than they have at present especially police, land or fiscal powers and to prevent the illegal merger of the North and the East and any attempt to change the unitary status of the country via unwanted constitutional changes, to counter the signing of ETCA, to counter the building of the Hanuman Bridge, to ensure that no Sri Lankan Forces member is harassed by setting up of hybrid courts or even domestic courts and to safeguard Sri Lankan armed forces from bogus war crimes charges to be produced via the OMP.

    Also to counter the wide ranging privatization of state assets programme of the UNP which envisages privatising even healthcare, water, electricity etc., to ensure that the rice farmer is empowered and not destroyed as this yahapalanaya government is doing and to ensure that 2600 years of rice farming is not destroyed, to ensure that other crop growers get a fair deal for their produce, to encourage local industries and companies by taxing imports, to create and empower and rehabilitate local industries like the Valachchanai paper plant, Puttlam, and KKS cement factories, Kanthale and Pelawatta sugar factories, to build new tyre producing factories, to build new fish tin canning factories, to build new fruit juice, jam producing factories, to create a more efficient food storage and transport to market system including proper storage and refrigeration of vegetables, fruits etc., to encourage local companies by taxing imports, to encourage school leavers to take up vocational training programmes and to create a vocational training to youth employment creation programme where youth are helped to start up their own SMEs, to change our diet from a wheat based diet to a rice based diet, to encourage farmers to produce our own milk by encouraging the dairy industry and to build factories to produce our own powdered milk etc.

    Unless a new party is formed now, all those people opposed to this treacherous yahapalanaya government will have nowhere to turn and nowhere to go and if the disaffected SLFPers do not take up this opportunity to form a new party, others definitely will. Also once the yahapalanaya commits all treacherous acts possible and betrays the country , it will be too late to form new political parties since there will not be a country left to govern after all the treacherous acts are completed by this yahapalanaya government.

  5. plumblossom Says:

    Sri Lanka’s future will depend on whether a new party is formed now or not by the disaffected SLFPers. It is now or never. There is no point forming new parties once this treacherous yahapalanaya government has finished committing all the treacherous deeds they are committing at present like more powers given to provincial councils inclusive of land, police and fiscal powers and illegally merging the North and the East, charging our brave Sri Lankan Forces with bogus war crimes using hybrid or even domestic courts, privatizing everything, destroying 2600 years of rice farming, signing ETCA, building the Hanuman bridge etc.

    Once all this is done there will not be a Sri Lanka left to govern. Therefore it is imperative that a new political party is formed now before it is too late for Sri Lanka when it will be of no point complaining once all the treacherous acts are committed and completed.

  6. plumblossom Says:

    Dr.Garvin Karunaratne Sir,

    Your articles are very inspiring and totally accurate. I agree that we need to produce our own food and create a more efficient system to convey perishable food items from farm to market. I also agree that with so much vegetables and fruit, we need some plants to produce our own fruit juice and jams. We need the Palewatte and Kanthale sugar factories to produce our own sugar. We need to reinstate the KKS, Puttlam cement factories and the Valachchanei paper factory.

    We need to reinstate a tyre producing factory. We also need a number of fish tin canning factories. We need to convert from a wheat based diet to a rice and kurakkan based diet. We need to encourage our own industries and entrepreneurs by taxing imports. We need to reinstate the handloom industry.

    We need more vocational training colleges and most importantly a comprehensive vocationally trained youth to employment programme where the youth are helped start their own SMEs and helped until they succeed.

    We need to vastly improve our dairy industry by importing milk cows and ensuring that we produce all the required milk we need. We need to build our own milk power producing factories. We also need to expand massively Sathosa and the cooperative system islandwide.

    We also need a number of organic/ inorganic fertilizer producing factories.

    If we do all this by taxing imports and encouraging local farmers, vocationally trained youth to employment programme by encouraging youth to start SMEs, local industries we will be able to reduce spending our foreign exchange, create massive employment opportunities, reduce massively cost of food and develop our country further.

  7. Nimal Says:

    That was a crude form of perfume no one bothered to buy from us except my foreign born girl friends that we use to play with in Kandy.Their parents too bought it out of sympathy.We moved our venture to a more salable commodity where we mixed this perfume with axial grease that was bought by the young burgher boys who imitated the Teddy boys and Elvis Presley.We made enough money to go for a film and buy our cloths,etc
    during that time we too were experimenting on many devices like making rockets and model air planes that actually flew and the fuel was a mixture of diesel and ether.
    We too tried to make helicopter with a Vespa engine mounted on crate where a curious carpenter made the wooden rotor.It rose 6 feet off the ground,spinning me the ‘pilot in the opposite direction,later to found out from our good friends that was manning the door at the US embassy,the marines that we must have a counter rotor at the back which was too complicated for us to make.We nearly decapitated our self as the Vespa engine was still spinning the contraption on the ground.
    Then we move into rockets and the first laser to be produced in SL,just after it was invented at MIT.With the participating people of the US peace corp housed at Darmaraja collage Kandy we managed to make thermo couples that was operated by a candle or kuppi light that could have operated a first small national radio bought by them.We too made electricity out of a small lemon ornamental tree full of lemons. It was displayed at their collage science exhibition where I helped them.I too displayed the crystal set radio,using the diode that we picked up from the burnt coal cinders of the rail engines where one could find when the engines off load the waste ash,at the rail depot.
    Good old days chemical ingredients were easily available at a chemist shop.We were successful in making the most important ingredient for a solid fuel rocket which was potassium nitrate which we made at home with an awful mixture of chicken dung,powdered egg shells where both this had potassium and nitrate.Gunpowder we made was used not only for the rockets but to make crackers.
    We too made the first rain making rocket that did work but the rain fell miles away from the launch site.Silver iodide was given to us by my American friends who used it their farming areas.
    I was very much interested in rockets and space travel some of my US friends in SL nick named me ‘Goddard’.
    I had the previlage to explain to the students about the US first space capsule of John Glenn that orbited the earth(first one do do so).I think the yanks were too tired of their mission taking this craft to so many countries so I volunteered to help them.I truly grateful to the their(NASA) pre-flight director one Merrill Preston(as I remember) writing to me to come to US,first to study at Pasadena(JPL) and join NASA as a us citizen but I declined and gave up my interest rocketry due to US involvement VN and several of my known US friends and their friends suffered and ended up in much more stable UK,still involved in communications.I am glad that that I contributed to US from a fair distance from UK.It seems the US facilities in their missions were like my second home and I like their larger than life life styles and it was my dream land that I will never visit,from the legendary stories of the western cow boys to space travel.i don’t want to spoil that dream by visiting that country.
    I some times wonder when Robert Taylor rode in the hottest death valley never showed of fatigue or sweat.I keep saying about this to the Americans that visited the hotel I was working as a student in London but the day of my wedding my English boss who prepared our wedding reception invited that one time guest from Santiago CA,who borough a small cactus plant with a flower from the death valley and I was truly honored and appreciative.But my wedding day was spoiled by the employee(Spanish) who envied the special treatment given to me by my English employer and refused to cover my night job while I was supposed to go on my honeymoon. It was a fake honey moon where we drove around the block and went back to sleep next door and reported to work that night to the amaZEMENT OF OUR GUSTS BROUGHT FROM SEVERAL COUNTRIES,as I was their adopted son who worked over 10 years without a night off(up to that date and 7 years after) as they could not find the reliable staff to cover my position.Mind you I too held up to my Day job as a qualified engineer sleeping only 4 hours a day.Guests were amazed to see me back but assured them that night that it was my twin brother who got married and I covered him for one week of his honey moon.The Suda boss summoned me to his death bed and said people rarely notice the wood from the tree.This and my dedication as a commonwealth citizen in UK had some bearing on the government policy on the poor countries where the legislators who live near us and associate with us.
    With respect to the power looms that you mentioned.Those looms were first made by me in large scale and the first one was exhibited at the exhibition that was held in 60s at the race course.We first made our power loom at Maragama where we had about 60 looms.We too had our second factory at Moratuwa and I am grateful to MR Ruskin Fernando who owned Velona factory for allowing me limitless access to study the machines there.
    We made our first machine with the greatest difficult where we had to turn many parts at lath shops at Pancigawatte.It was truly frustrating for me to get the parts made to fit one another.Only persons felt sorry for me were one Upali Wijewardana working for lever brothers and the directors of Cylinco(Justin Kothalawala and Justin Siva) where they gave me and my American friend an office in the building.
    We employed many but it all came to an end when JR turned against us and got my innocent American friend arrested and was deported with in 2 weeks.They seems to have robbed his Textile plants,his vehicles and stangley the our friend at the US embassy one Harrigton turned against us us well,visited him at the lock up at the Slave Island police station.My friend’s name is Challenor.C.Chute and he was an innocent Scientist and a textile expert from NC.
    The night he was deported I left all the vehicles,threw the keys of the two factories,left a cheque for the employee of all the money he had in bank,took the night train to Kandy and the next visit to Colombo was the board the ship Laos Europe and then to UK.In disgust I never took any visas to any country though I had friends in our circle in Colombo who could have got me that as I came to UK to colonize them. Strange enough they welcome me at the port,took time to look for my passport as I hid in my luggage.I was very angry with all our friends in the missions colombo never came to help my friend who was locked up at the slave island prison by JR. Dudly and MRs SWRD(subsequently met them in London) was shocked to hear that it could happen under their noses to an innocent man.I am truly grateful the immigration officer name one Mr Avery(in Hawich sea port) to let me in and I planted the SL flag at the docks and the workers who noticed this helped me with my bags all the way to Victoria and they carried the flag too.It was a hot day on the 20th of August and they were all amused by it and they the English could enjoy the real sense of humor that the Germans never had,a country I just left behind a day before though they gave me all the facilities to study and live.After all we are British at heart in many aspects in our lives.Hope I haven bored you’ll ?

  8. Christie Says:

    I don’t think Garvin and his followers know what they are thinking about. Well you make your perfume from flowers from temples. You may be able to sell some to Monks wives. But the rest,

    I knew an Indian colonial parasite who made soap in Baticloa. He sold his soap all over the island. He send them to Pettah and then all over the island.,

    People can dream. I grew chillies and dried them in Manampitiya abot four decades ago. Indian colonial parasite merchants did not buy from me. They had their own growers and bought from Indian colonial parasite growers only.

    I had to transport them at a high cost and sell directly to local shops run by Sinhalese. Our economy is in the hands of Indian colonial parasites and our poloyicians are in their hand.

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