July 03, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Minister of Coconut Development and Janatha State Development Jagath Pushpakumara and Cuban Minister of Agriculture Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero have affirmed their resolve to work together and draw up an action plan for the effective implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Coconut Development.
A Sri Lankan delegation led by Minister Pushpakumara visited Cuba from 24th - 29th June 2013. The visit mainly focused on the implementation of the MoU on Coconut Development signed between Sri Lanka and Cuba during the state visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Cuba in June 2012.
Chairman of the Coconut Research Board, Prof. H.P.M. Gunasena, Director of the Coconut Research Institute, Dr Jayantha Gunathilaka and Chairman of the Coconut Cultivation Board, Sarath Keerthiratne accompanied the Minister.
The Cuban Minister briefed them on the current status of the country's coconut sector and its significance for the people and economy of Cuba. Both ministers also agreed that the MOU on Coconut Development would facilitate the exchange of delegations, sharing of knowledge and experience, technology transfer, promotion of cooperation and opportunities in scientific, research and technological sectors between the two countries.
The Chairman of the Coconut Research Board, Prof. Gunasena proposed the setting up of focal points by the two Ministries in order to implement the activities and review progress of action under the MoU.
The Sri Lankan delegation as part of the programme made a 3 -day field visit to the eastern region of Baracoa which is home to the largest coconut plantations, coconut processing and research facilities in Cuba.
In Baracoa, the delegation was able to get a firsthand knowledge on the current status of the coconut production and processing sectors and gather information and views of the grower communities involved in cultivation and processing of coconut. It also enabled them to share their knowledge and experience with the officials in charge of coconut cultivation and industry in Baracoa.
During the visit, they also stopped at other coconut growing regions such as Guantanamo, Granmaand Ciego de Vila and exchanged views and observations with the provincial authorities on matters of interest in the field of Agriculture.
Following their return to Havana, the Minister and the delegation held a wrap up meeting with the Cuban authorities overseeing coconut, fruit, and food production as well as processing, industrial, marketing aspects etc. and agreed on a joint plan of action to implement the provisions of the MoU with the collaboration of their respective Embassies.
During discussions, Minister Jagath Pushpakumara assured the Cuban side led by the Director of the Tropical Fruit Research Institute, Raixa Llauger Riverón of Sri Lanka's assistance in capacity building, training, exchange and transfer of expertise and technology, introduction of new products, cultivation and varieties, management practices and proposed joint endeavors to tackle pest attacks and diseases, among others.
In return, the Cuban delegation agreed to help Sri Lanka to acquire advanced scientific know how, technology and technical support from Cuba.