30th June 2002, Volume 8, Issue 50

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BUSINESS

Bidder for LMSL stake accused of smuggling

Fal Oil Co., one of the five parties short-listed to bid for the 90% stake of Lanka Marine Services Ltd. (LMSL) has been accused of smuggling Iraqi oil. This allegation was made by the US Navy recently.

However, the Sharjah-based bunker and fuel oil trader has denied the charges. It has also informed clients that the accusations are false. The Sunday Leader  understands that the company has appointed legal counsel in London and the U.S. to seek clarifications and a public apology from the American Navy.

Early this month, Commander of the US Navy's 5th fleet, Vice Admiral Timothy Keating claimed in Baharain that ten firms based in the Persian Gulf were smugglers and their associates. Fal Oil Co. was among the accused.

It was the first time that firms allegedly involved in the smuggling of Iraqi oil were named by the American Navy. An official at the US Navy's 5th fleet base in Baharain is reported to have said they would not be naming these companies if they lacked sufficient evidence.

The other nine companies which were accused are Blue Sky Shipping, Al-Mujtaba Co., Akron Trade and Transport, Ajilan Export and Import, Bakhit Mohammed General Trading, Energy Resources, Golden Sail General Trading, MK International and Gasoline Trading.

Fal Oil was among the 17 parties that had submitted expressions of interest for the privatisation of LMSL conducted by the Public Enterprise Reform Commission (PERC). LMSL, which is a subsidiary of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, is the monopoly supplier of bunkers in the island.

Both local and foreign companies submitted expressions of interest, either individually or through partnerships. They included Shell Company, Maritime Holdings Ltd. with Fal Oil Company, Ceylinco Consolidated with Petronas, Pioneer Bunker Services, Caltex Ceylon Ltd. with John Keells Holdings, Master Divers (Pvt) Ltd. with Bakri International Energy Co., Aitken Spence and Co. with McLarens Holdings Ltd., Scandinavian Bunkering AS, Sri Lanka Shipping Co. with Chemoil Corporation, Indian Oil Tanking with DPMC Financial Services Ltd., Singha Holdings, Senok Trade Combine Ltd., Singapore Petroleum Company Ltd., Mohar Shipping Corporation, Westfarmers Ltd, Australia/I-Ron Holdings, Fima Bulking Services Bhd with BITCO and Lanka Transformers Ltd./Van Ommeron Tank Terminal Bangladesh Ltd./Summit United Tanks Terminal Ltd./ Fuji Power and Petroleum Ltd.

The five short listed bidders include Maritime Holdings Ltd. with Fal Oil Co., John Keells Holdings, Pioneer Bunker Services, Master Divers Limited with Bakri International Energy Co., and Lanka Transformers Ltd./ Van Ommeran Tank Terminal Bangladesh Ltd./ Summit United Tanks Terminal Ltd/ Fuji Power and Petroleum Ltd.

The 90% stake of LMSL will be offered at the Colombo Stock Exchange shortly, at the floor price of Rs. 1200 million.

PERC has decided to conduct the sale on an 'all or none basis.'

LMSL has performed well since recent times. Its annual turnover is as high as Rs. 3000 million and has bunkering storage capacity of about 30,000 tons. The company has great potential, and a few years ago achieved a profit before tax amounting to almost Rs. 500 million.


Lanka Cement Ltd. commences operations

LANKA Cement Ltd., which was shut down in 1996 due to the north-east conflict, recently commenced production once again on a small scale.

The factory at Kankesanthurai that provided direct and indirect employment to nearly 1500 people is 96% owned by the Sri Lanka Cement Corporation and 4% of public funds.

According to Anil Koswatte, the company will only pack cement for the time being.

The main advantage of the factory being situated in Kankesanthurai is that 94% of the raw materials can be found in the area. Even though the company commenced operations in 1983 and was not in operation for a couple of years some of the equipment at the plant can be still used. "However, if we are to go in to mass-scale production we will need more funding," Koswatte said.

While the first batch of production was donated to four places of worship in the area, Koswatte says they are expecting loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Union (EU) and other foreign missions to bring the factory back to its full capacity.

- Risidra Mendis


TMC on good governance

The Management Club (TMC), formed in February this year under the auspices of the Chartered Management Institute, UK, had their first evening presentation recently when they organised a programme on 'Good Governance and Credible Leadership' at the Galle Face Hotel.

Senior Resident Representative of IMF in Sri Lanka, Dr. Nadeem Ul Haque was the keynote speaker at this event, which was organised by the Management and Social Accountability Committee of the TMC.

Dr. Haque in his presentation indicated that market forces will finally decide on the failure or success of an organisation and that the corporate sector should learn from research and realise that regulations alone cannot eliminate risks.

Partner, Pricewater-house Coopers, Sujeewa Mudalige presenting the Enron saga described how a company with a magnitude of more than 3500 subsidiaries and picked by the Fortune  magazine as the most innovative company for six consecutive years, collapsed as a result of bad accounting policies.

The programme which drew a distinguished gathering of over 100 participants was concluded with a very interactive and interesting panel discussion moderated by former President of Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ranel Wijesinghe with the participation of attorney at law and partner of Nithya Partners, Aritha Wickremanayake and Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Chandra Jayaratne.

TMC would have their next evening presentation on Friday, July 12, at the same venue on the theme 'Changing the Mindset of an Organisation to become Worldclass in their Industry.'


SriLankan to add Airbus A320 to fleet

SriLankan Airlines will add an Airbus A320 to its fleet of eight Airbus aircraft in July 2002.

The airline currently has four A340s, three A330s and one A320.

The additional A320 has been obtained on a lease till 31st March 2008 from Orix Aviation Systems Limited of Ireland. The aircraft has a configuration of 12 business and 138 economy class seats.

The additional A320 will be used for regional services that SriLankan is introducing to Bangalore in South India, on July 15th, 2002. The airline is also resuming a fifth weekly service to Trichy which was suspended last year and Bodh Gaya (also in India) will be a new destination in winter 2002. Both these routes too will be operated by the A320.

The airline will also resume services to Frankfurt in Germany in winter 2002.

Says SriLankan's CEO Peter Hill: "We are back to growing our business again. Visitors from overseas are on the increase, many at present are Sri Lankans resident abroad. However, there are encouraging signs in the tourism sector as well. Much of this increased confidence in Sri Lanka can be attributed to the current peace initiatives."

With the addition of Bangalore, Bodh Gaya and Frankfurt, the airline will have a route network of 31 destinations in 20 countries across Europe, the Middle East, South and South East Asia and the Far East.


SLT joins hands with Bank of Ceylon

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), the country's telecommunication giant joined hands with Bank of Ceylon (BOC) recently to implement its direct debit telephone bill payment scheme.

From the inception of Sri Lanka Inter-bank Payment System (SLIP) introduced by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in 1993, SLT was the first and only utility company so far that made available this facility to its customers by a direct debit payment scheme on SLIP.

An agreement was signed between SLT and BOC at a ceremony held at the Bank of Ceylon head office. "Our aim is to offer more value to our customers. The direct debit scheme will gradually remove the hassle of paying telephone bills by going to service outlets in person. That will be a great value addition to our customers," said CEO, SLT, Shuhei Anan.

"Being the national telecom operator, we decided to tie up with Bank of Ceylon because we were confident that our customers' will get the best," he added.

General Manager, BOC, Sarath de Silva said that BOC was proud to be a partner of this endeavour. "This partnership will be an ideal marriage since BOC being the national flag carrier bank and SLT being the same, that of telecommunications. The scheme will simplify busy schedules of customers of both BOC and SLT," de Silva added.

The direct debit telephone bill payment scheme will facilitate SLT customers to pay their telephone bill through their banks. What they simply have to do is to advice the bank to honour the request made by SLT through BOC for the monthly telephone bill through an application.

Once the customer consents to the scheme, the monthly  charge will be deducted from the customer's account.

SLT will send the customer a receipt acknowledging each transaction which again will be indicated in the bank statement the customer receives from his/her bank as a charge for SLT. Initially this scheme will be available only for Bank of Ceylon current account holders of all its 350 branches spread out across the island and will be expanded to other banks also very soon.

"Under the direct debit telephone bill payment scheme, SLT customers do not have to visit any SLT service outlet to pay their telephone bills. They will simply have to advice their bank to pay the bill," emphasised Customer Service Director, SLT, Christie Alwis.

"Today's world sees a large scale convergence in every aspect of life. Our direct telephone bill payment scheme will support it. This again is a wonderful team effort with both sides contributing tirelessly to achieve a difficult task," Alwis said.


Deutsche Bank launches db-recon

Deutsche Bank recently launched its new receivables matching solution for the Asian region, db-recon.

This state-of-the-art product, which was demonstrated for the first time in Singapore at the annual Eurofinance Conference, allows integrated outsourcing for receivables and provides automated reconciliation of invoices with payments received by customers.

db-recon will enable customers to outsource the administrative task of reconciliation to Deutsche Bank.

This automated solution will result in a soft copy of the reconciled and non-reconciled payments to be provided to clients daily.

This service will also expand on Deutsche Bank's end-to-end approach towards cash management solutions, geared to meet corporate customers' needs to streamline payment workflow and processes.

"db-recon follows on the heels of the successful launch of our other integrated payment outsourcing solutions in Asia, offering seamless integration to our customers' accounting systems through the host-to-host customer access platform, db-worldPAS," said Asia Pacific Head, Deutsche Bank's Global Cash Management for Corporates, Jimmy Yap.

"Deutsche Bank's continued focus on our clients' expectations has allowed us to develop products tailored to address the unique challenges of the Asia Pacific marketplace," he added.

In conjunction with this launch, Regional Head, Product Management for Deutsche Bank's Global Cash Management, Tay Kok Keong discussed the challenges confronting corporate treasurers in the Asia Pacific region at the conference.


NBD Bank opens branch

NDB Bank opened its first branch  at 42 Navam Mawatha on June 12, next door to its sister company, the National Development Bank. The branch was declared open by NDB Bank's Chairman, S.L. Wickremesinghe, at a simple ceremony. NDB's Director/General Manager, Nihal Welikala, NDB Bank's CEO, Eran Wickramaratne, and the senior management of both banks also participated in the opening.

NDB Bank began operations in October last year, with its acquisition of the Sri Lankan branch of ABN AMRO bank. The new entity inherited ABN's customer base of private sector corporates and high net-worth individuals, its experienced and customer focused team of bankers, and well established banking policies and practices. Backed by the strength of the NDB's balance sheet, the new bank is well equipped to become an important player in Sri Lanka's commercial banking sector.

"We are committed to investing in new technology and multiple delivery channels to build up the infrastructure we need to provide its customers with the best service levels. The Navam Mawatha branch is the first of  several branches the bank intends to open during the course of this year.  These branches will be complemented by ATMs and phone banking and, in the future, internet banking facilities as well," said CEO, NDB Bank, Eran Wickramaratne.

Manager of the new branch, Ganga Wanigaratne, is a very experienced banker, who counted 16 years of service with the ABN AMRO bank prior to joining NDB Bank. The Navam Mawatha branch will offer customers a full range of commercial banking products and services, including current and savings accounts, foreign currency accounts, fixed deposits, foreign and local remittances, pay orders, drafts, issue and encasement of traveller's cheques and foreign currency, certificates of deposit, treasury bills, trade finance, ATM services, and processing of applications for services such as touch-banking by phone. The branch will be fully networked with the head office, so transactions will be updated on-line and in real time.

The location of the branch will make it especially useful to customers of the National Development Bank, and to people working in the office complexes that make up the Navam Mawatha business area.

Customers of the new commercial bank will have the added advantage of access to the products and services available through the NDB group, which include long term project finance, insurance, leasing, investment banking and venture capital.


ACCA annual general meeting

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants annual general meeting was held on the June 21 at the Jaic Hilton.

Seated from left to right are Suganthini Kumarasamy, Educational Officer, Dilshan Rodrigo, Ashani Kiridena, Secretary, Ajith Tudawe, President, T.L. Raj, Treasurer, V. Kandasamy, Public Relations Officer, Shiyamalee Karunanayake and U.H. Palihakkara.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is the largest, fastest growing international professional accountancy body in the world with nearly 300,000 members and students in 160 countries.


INTRAD 2002 in September

The INTRAD 2002 Export Exhibition & Investor Forum to be held from September 4 to 6 at the BMICH is expected to be the biggest event of its kind held so far in Sri Lanka.

This event, organised by the National Chamber of Commerce, has been endorsed by several relevant ministries and state institutions. It will attract a large number of foreign buyers as well as investors.

President of the National Chamber of Commerce, Chandra Embuldeniya, expects a good response from participants due to the improved business environment arising from the ceasefire and peace process.

He noted that the exhibition will consist of 150-200 stalls, including those taken by local exporters as well as foreign providers of export-oriented technology. "This exhibition is being organised as a window of our export capabilities," he stated.

The INTRAD 2002 exhibition will bring under one roof the island's premier export products and supporting services.

Fourteen sectors have been identified and a product profile of each of the sectors is displayed in the INTRAD 2002 web site (www.nationalchamber.lk.org/INTRAD 2002). These include apparel and textiles, ayurvedic/herbal/health & beauty care products, ceramics & porcelain, coconut based products, cut flowers and foliage, furniture & wood products, gems & jewellery, handicraft/toys and gift items, leather & leather products, ornamental fish, rubber products spices and essential oils, tea, as well as machinery/technology service industries that support the above sectors.

Exhibitors will include both BOI and non-BOI manufacturers and exhibitors.

Embuldeniya said this year's event will be the sixth INTRAD exhibition, and that past events were held when a very poor business climate prevailed. He believe that much greater participation from overseas is imperative.

"This time we are totally export-oriented," he added.

Entry to the exhibition is free of charge, but prior registration is necessary to quality for the special tour package and one-to-one meeting with exporters.

The INTRAD 2002 investor forum will run concurrently to the exhibition, and will cover investment opportunities in tourism, infrastructure development and information and communication technology.

A team of experts in these fields will act as resource persons.

Chamber sources stated that Sri Lanka is the most liberalised country in the South Asian region, offering many attractive benefits to promote international investment. The island also has a highly skilled and literate workforce.

They added, "Sri Lanka is a signatory to several preferential trading agreements with neighbouring countries. The free trade Agreement with India gives a clear advantage for goods produced in Sri Lanka to enter the vast Indian market. A similar agreement will be signed with Pakistan in September 2002. Talks are also in progress to establish a FTA with the United States, Sri Lanka being a signatory to several ILO conventions adapts very high social conditions for its workforce. It is mandatory for Sri Lanka's industries to be environment friendly."

According to Embuldeniya, foreign exhibitors, buyers and investors are offered an attractive package comprising discounted airfare, hotel accommodation and selected tours to several exotic destinations in Sri Lanka.

He also said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called upon all our missions abroad to promote the event.

The INTRAD 2002 Export Exhibition & Investor Forum is endorsed by the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy and Investment Promotion, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Industries, Export Development Board, Board of Investment, Sri Lanka Tourist Board, Sri Lanka Tea Board and Department of Commerce.

INTRAD 2002 is expected to receive wide international publicity due to the involvements of these key ministries and state institutions.

The chamber with its vast international connections will invite foreign trade chambers to send delegations to visit the exhibition and participate in the investor forum.


DFCC selects netSYMBOLS

DFCC Bank recently announced that it has selected System Access' flagship product netSYMBOLS to upgrade its computer system and implement a core banking solution.

By utilising netSYMBOLS, DFCC Bank aims to raise the level of customer service to its growing customer base while expanding its scope of operations.

The bank will be implementing netSYMBOLS Loan Origination, Commercial Lending, Deposit, Treasury and Knowledge Manager modules.

"Our bank whilst expanding its operations in commercial lending, corporate finance and capital markets plans to leverage its valuable customer base by offering new products and services. netSYMBOLS has the flexibility to facilitate product development to satisfy needs of our customers and implement an integrated suit of business application systems that can evolve to meet the changing business needs of the bank," says Senior Vice President (IT), DFCC Bank, Sidath Wijeratne.

He also added "The flexibility of netSYMBOLS to accommodate the existing loan portfolio together with its differentiated features and the ability to deploy and interface seamlessly to Oracle based products were critical prerequisites for the selection of the system."

"We are delighted to be chosen by DFCC to support their banking functions. The bank carried out an extensive evaluation exercise, looking at every aspect of technology and functionality and netSYMBOLS proved to be well equipped for the task.

System Access will be providing training to the staff of DFCC on its development methodology and enabling the in-house team in the implementation process," commented Director, Business Development, System Access, Alex Ly.

MphasiS-BFL will conduct the project management for this implementation. Headquartered both in Bangalore and California, MphasiS has a very strong presence in the banking/financial sector and is assessed by KPMG at SEI level 5 and ISO 9001.


TNT office opens in Jaffna

Ace Cargo (Pvt) Ltd, who represent Europe's leading express, mail and logistics company, TNT International Express, became the first international air express company to open it's own office in the Jaffna peninsula on June 19. The Jaffna community will now have access to the most comprehensive range of air express and mail products in the industry at their doorstep enabling them to send and receive consignments through TNT International Express to and from any part of the world.  Pictured are Director, Aitken Spence Travels, Sasi Ganesan, President, Jaffna Chamber of Commerce, R. Jeyasegaran (Chief Guest), Managing Director, Ace Cargo (Pvt) Ltd, agents for TNT International Express, Rohantha Peiris and Director, Ace Cargo (Pvt) Ltd, and Country Manager, TNT International Express, Mohan Perera.


iOM unveils new corporate strategy

iOM Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, recently communicated their new corporate strategy at a press conference held on June 20, at the Jaic Hilton. The change in strategy and how it would affect the public and their existing customers in the future was the main focus of the discussion.

The company is one of the longest established software companies in Asia, with over 22 years of software development and implementation experience in the region. Their customers include blue chips such as Metropolitan Group (Sri Lanka), Abans Group (Sri Lanka), Hemas Group of Companies (Sri Lanka), F & N Coca Cola (Singapore), Kodak (USA), Mother Care (Thailand) and Whirlpool (India).

This change in corporate strategy has been devised not just to withstand but to thrive in an increasingly competitive global IT arena where new IT firms emerge and vanish with alarming frequency while customers are demanding better and faster support and after sales services.

Presently, iOM covers a wide range of industries and business solutions including leading financial and distribution systems, human resource systems, plant maintenance systems, balance score card, executive information system and retail management system. With the change in corporate strategy they will be realigning their concentration towards their retail management system, Retailigence and their human resource system, HR Pro.

Retailigence is a retail management system designed to address a wide spectrum of retail industries and has specific features and functions to meet the food, general merchandise, electronic, footwear, fashion and specialised services.

HR Pro is an integrated internet enabled suite of human resource planning and management applications supported by an extremely flexible and comprehensive HR administration system. FAMAS HR Pro enables an organisation to gain a competitive advantage by aligning the workforce to suit the business needs of the company.

Pictured are General Manager, iOM Lanka, Jitendra Daulagala, Sales and Marketing Manager, Anushika Wickramage and Managing Director, Zulficar Ghouse.


UAL and hSenid agreement

Union Assurance (UAL) entered into a human resource management system agreement with hSenid, a software development company specialising in HRD software. The system will enable UAL staff to have access to HRD associated information on-line with the touch of a button. UAL staff will soon view their performance appraisals and even apply for leave of absence on-line. "We are a people-centric organisation and as such, are constantly improving our work processes to provide our employees with streamlined services that will motivate them to work with passion on the job. I am confident that our investment with hSenid will provide substantial returns over the years," declared CEO, UAL, Sarath Wikramanayake.

The agreement was signed by Wikramanayake and CEO, hSenid, Dinesh Saparamadu. "We are happy that UAL chose hSenid for their human resource management system and feel strongly that this will benefit them in increasing efficiency and productivity in the whole organisation," stated Saparamadu. hSenid is a software company specialising in developing HR management systems, ERP Solutions and eCommerce applications with an impressive  client portfolio that includes several other blue chip companies.


DPL acquires controlling interest in ICO

Dipped Products Limited (DPL) has announced the acquisition of a controlling interest in ICO Guanti Spa of Genoa, Italy, its largest distributor in Europe, in a move that will see this world-class glove manufacturer taking a position up the value chain in the distribution of its products.

The acquisition valued at US $ 855,000 (about Rs. 81 million) funded entirely from the company's export earnings, would result in Dipped Products owning 55 percent of ICO, which holds several brands widely accepted in Italy and in neighbouring countries like Switzerland and France, the company said.

In an announcement to the Colombo Stock Exchange and to the company's shareholders at the DPL annual general meeting on Wednesday, June 26, the company said the acquisition would significantly complement its recent investment in a medical examination gloves plant in Thailand, because ICO presently purchases on its own account, about 350 million medical examination gloves for distribution in Italy.

ICO Guanti was established in 1968 and has been closely associated with Dipped Products for more than 22 years. The company presently accounts for about 15 percent of DPL sales, and has a turnover of US $ 10 million annually.

Commenting on the acquisition, a spokesman for Dipped Products said, "This will enable DPL to become vigorously involved in the rapidly changing markets of Europe. All our major competitors operate their global marketing offices, and this investment in ICO Guanti will provide us with a unique opportunity to take a downstream position in marketing our gloves in Europe."

"We believe an investment of US $ 855,000 to acquire a controlling interest in a company that has market share of US $ 10 million in Western Europe is cheap at the price offered. Our gross margins alone on sales to this company are in excess of this amount."

Established in 1976 as a division of the Hayleys Group, Dipped Products pioneered the manufacture of latex gloves for export in Sri Lanka. A public listed company with assets of Rs. 3.8 billion and a turnover of Rs. 3 billion, Dipped Products is today the fourth largest non-medical glove manufacturer in the world. The company recently made an initial investment of Rs. 70 million is a US $ 7 million (Rs. 660 million) manufacturing facility in Thailand in order to diversify into the manufacture of medical examination gloves.


Seylan Bank introduces Seylan Shakthi

Seylan Bank has introduced the Seylan Shakthi fixed deposit scheme with the intention of reducing the utility bills of consumers.

The four year fixed deposit, while increasing customer's monthly income, will also take a burden off their shoulders when it comes to paying bills at the end of the month.

With a minimum deposit of Rs. 100,000 the customer is free to withdraw interest monthly, annually or at maturity. Once the customer has invested the required sum, 1% of the deposit value will be given to the account holder in the form of a utility voucher during the first year.

"We are targeting the retired and self employed people and lottery winners. However, the Seylan Shakthi fixed deposit scheme has become very popular among many people who invest in a monthly income, as the long term deposit interest rate for that customer remains the same," said Brand Manager, Fixed Deposits, Kamini Fernando.

The Seylan Shakthi fixed deposit scheme was first introduced in 2000 and has become a large deposit base and is popular among housewives.

"We had a tremendous response at the initial introduction of this scheme and are also the first bank to introduce such a fixed deposit in the market," Fernando said.

When the interest income exceeds Rs. 20,000 the bank automatically converts the fixed deposit into a savings account. When the savings account balance exceeds Rs 20,000 the customer automatically qualifies to win from the rewards plus draw.


People's Merchant Bank achieves 100% growth in profits

The People's Merchant Bank has recorded a profit of Rs. 10.7 mn. amidst a volatile economic background in which it had to operate during the year ended March 31, 2002. Chairman, People's Merchant Bank, Lal Nanayakkara describes this achievement as being significant and laudable.

The bank achieved a 100% increase in profits despite substantial provisions made for bad and doubtful debts. The re-pricing of their short-term borrowings and the tight control over operating expenditure enabled the bank to reduce its cost to net income ratio from  80% last year to 62%. The productivity of the bank has also increased during the year with the value added per employee increasing by 50%.

The bank's future plans include a further reduction of the mismatch in maturities of its assets and liabilities. The bank has also invested in Information Technology (IT) to support its leasing activities.

CEO, People's Merchant Bank, Naomal Soysa in his review states that the bank will be specialising in corporate finance and real estate activities in future years. The two divisions will work together, with the Corporate Finance Division structuring the required instruments to mobilise the finances, and the Real Estate Division handling the project management and marketing aspects.


SLICL upgrades branches

Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLICL) has embarked on a programme of upgrading its branches wherever necessary with a view to affording its customers greater convenience, comfort, facilities and accessibility.

The SLICL moved its branch offices in Horana and Ja-ela into more spacious premises recently.

The Horana branch now located at its new premises at No. 127, Anguruwatota Road, Horana, was declared open on June 14, by Executive Director, Sarath Cooray at a simple ceremony which was followed by Anushasana  delivered by the Venerable Vidyarathana Vidyadhikari Horana Yasassa Thero.

Among those who attended the function were DGM Administration, J.M. Vithanage, AGM Regions & Branches, Upali Wijetunga, AGM, Marketing & Development, Jerome Vincent and Horana Branch Manager, Nelson Kalansuriya.

In Ja-ela, the SLICL moved its branch office to No. 94-96, Old Negombo Road, Ja-ela which was declared open on June 15, by its Executive Director, Sarath Cooray. This was followed by simple religious ceremonies conducted by Venerable Rupanave Wimalarathna Thero of the Ja-ela Sri Bodhiraja Ramaya and Parish Priest of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Ja-ela, Rev. Fr. Leo Camillus.

Also in attendance on this occasion were AGM Regions & Branches, Upali Wijetunga, AGM Marketing & Development, Jerome Vincent, Negombo Regional Manager, A.M.W. Attanayake and Ja-ela Branch Manager, Priyantha Silva among others.


New book on fruit farming published by Arjuna Hulugalle Dictionaries

A new book, Fruit Farming, was recently published by Arjuna Hulugalle Dictionaries.

The third technical communication of the Imperial Bureau of Fruit Production describes investigations on the standardisation of citrus trees by propagation methods. A chapter from it is published in this number. The whole booklet deserves to be studied by those interested in the propagation of perennial trees and bushes, whether they do so for the production of fruit or other commercial products from them. It affords interesting material for the consideration not only of the citrus grower but of the planter of rubber, coffee, cocoa, and other such crops.

It demonstrates what has not been sufficiently appreciated in the past that when a good parent has been selected from which to propagate there is usually a great deal of careful technique required both in the attempt to perpetuate its kind by seed and by vegetative reproduction to ensure that offspring carrying the desirable qualities are secured.

We have been too accustomed to think that the germination of a seed results in a plant that contains the elements of its two progenitors, the egg cell and the pollen.

That is now known to not necessarily be the case, many horticultural plants of which the citrus family, the mango, and coffee are examples. It is established that whilst the fertilised egg cell within the seed of plants usually does give rise to an embryo, yet non-sexual cells of the body of the seed may take upon themselves the propensity to multiply and grow into a new embryo plant.

The result of this is that  from such seeds as show this phenomenon, and it is to be noted that the seeds of all plants do not, there can be embryos of two kinds; one containing the elements and hereditary properties of two parents and the other containing those of only one, that being the parent upon which the seed was borne.

Whilst usually only one sexually produced embryo is grown from each seed, there may be several of the vegetable or mono-parent type. This explains one aspect of the variation in the types of citrus and other trees commonly noticeable in our orchards and plantations. It is an addition to our knowledge concerning segregation of parental characters and types beyond that previously possessed of such in generations derived by the process of fertilisation.

Armed with this knowledge and that to be gained by studious observation, it is now possible in some cases to pick out in the nursery the seedlings derived from a sexually produced embryo and those that have arisen as it were by a process of the sprouting of the parental portion of the seed. There may be marked differences between them.

The possibility of elimination of the undesired types in this way from among seedlings in the nursery so as to leave us stocks for budding of a uniform kind is a most important advance in horticultural knowledge. In the past the method of securing this was by taking pieces or cuttings from the parent tree.

The importance of obtaining uniformity in the stocks upon which to bud or graft cannot be over emphasised if uniformity in the final product is to be attained. Whatever the influence of stock upon scion may be, provided all the stocks in a plantation be the same, that influence will be similar throughout.

The study of the influence of the stock, however, upon the scion is one receiving considerable attention, and advance in our knowledge of this subject is to be hoped for.

In the selection of budwood, as of stocks, great care is to be taken to secure uniformity as even upon the same tree a phenomenon of bud variation may play a part introducing variation. The securing of a uniform scion is just as important as that of a uniform stock.

The influence of the scion upon the stock is another line of investigation to which much attention is now being given. Upon the same stock a grafted sweet-orange scion or top will cause a deep root system whilst a lemon top produces shallow rooting.

In view of the attention that is being paid to fruit cultivation in Sri Lanka at the present time, opportunity may here be taken once more to reiterate the advice not to plant seedling trees but stocks grafted or budded with selected material.

 

 

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