The palm oil industry in Sri Lanka has been a vital policy initiative aimed at reducing palm oil imports and boosting the economy. Oil palm cultivation was allowed initially to reduce reliance on imported palm oil, but concerns over environmental and health impacts led to a decision to phase out cultivation within ten years. In this Q&A Explainer with Author, Dr Erandathie Pathiraja, Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS), provides valuable insights into the recently published IPS study, ‘Palm Oil Industry in Sri Lanka: An Economic Analysis’. Dr Pathiraja shares her perspectives on the reasons behind the ban on oil palm cultivation, the potential impact on the economy and environment, the industry’s economic contributions, environmental concerns and their mitigation, health issues related to edible oil consumption, and alternative solutions to meet the local edible oil demand. The study authored by Dr. Erandathie Pathiraja, Ruwan Samaraweera, Hiruni Fernando, and Jaan Bogodage, offers a comprehensive analysis of the economic and environmental impacts of the palm oil industry in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s labour market has been riddled with persistent high informality, an unchanging low female labour force participation, and low quality of available jobs. Enhancing exports can be a solution to these intractable problems, according to the findings of the Exports to Jobs – Boosting the Gains from Trade in South Asia report, which shows that boosting exports improves domestic labour markets by creating jobs, increasing wages, and reducing informality.
IPS’ New Thinkers’ Symposium saw discussions at the Policy Hub focus on some of recent government initiatives aimed at creating an enabling environment for economic transformation in Sri Lanka through technology and innovation under the Symposium’s overall theme of Technology and Economic Transformation.
Sri Lanka boasts of a relatively high literacy rate of 92 per cent amongst its population. However, its computer literacy rate is a meagre 27.5 per cent. In the context of the of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), if Sri Lanka is to circumvent the middle income trap and achieve high income status, its economic transformation has to be driven by technology and innovation. This blog briefly discusses some salient points on this matter, with a particular focus on those highlighted at IPS’ New Thinkers’ Symposium.
IPS’ New Thinkers’ Symposium featured an Innovations Hub, a space for entrepreneurs and innovators to showcase their work. Citra Labs, SYNAPSYS, Dialog Digital Services, and Jigsaw Ensemble presented their work, in line with the Symposium’s overall theme of Technology and Economic Transformation. The discussion highlighted the manner in which innovative products and services address economic policy issues that are of interest to the research community.