The word ‘profession’ means different things to different people. But at its core, it’s meant to be an indicator of trust and expertise. According to the Professional Standards Council of Australia, A profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards.

Professionals are accountable to those served and to society. Back in Sri Lanka the Organization of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka is the body of Professionals presently belonging to, 50 member associations catering to 32 disciplines with a total membership of over 50,000. The 9 objectives of the OPA explain the importance of a profession, how they could promote the interests of a profession and set about in promoting their interests for the development of the profession.

The first step of defining a professional is to develop a definition for the profession. Although the plantations was the first large scale commercial venture in Sri Lanka, the planter is still not a recognized professional by the OPA.

The Ceylon Planters Society took this challenge upon them and developed the definition under the leadership of Prof Ajantha Dharmasiri of PIM, generally known as the Harvard of Asia. ‘a Planter leads an agribusiness professionally to reach desired growth sustainably’. It’s important to understand the distinct meaning denoted by key words in this definition.

There is a distinct difference between a manager and a leader and planters have been known for his gentleman and leadership qualities since the very inception. Managers supervise staff in the day-to-day operations of an organization, whereas Leaders create change within organizations and inspire others towards greatness.

Plantation crops are perennials and are not short term unlike in the case of agriculture.

Wikipedia defines agribusiness as: the business of agricultural production. The term was coined in 1957 by Goldberg and Davis. It includes agrichemicals, breeding, crop production (farming and contract farming), distribution, farm machinery, processing, and seed supply, as well as marketing and retail sales.

It is clear that plantations come under agribusiness hence defines the involvement of a Planter with the particular industry known globally.

The professional is one who is engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur.

A growth can be defined in many ways but very briefly growth is the process of increasing in amount, value, or importance.

In a business it is about a business generates significant positive cash flows or earnings, which increase at significantly faster rates than the overall economy.

Sustainability is all about causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time. The famous aspects of sustainability refer to physical environment (soil, air, and water), social (stake holders etc.) and economical (profitability). In short it is about the people, planet and profits.

The definition also explains the strategic competencies a Planter possess already and leads to a million dollar question of ‘is the planter sufficiently compensated for the unthankful job he performs whilst sacrificing health and personal comforts to contribute to the nation building.

Regrettably ‘culture of the plantations industry eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner’. We pointed out the dire need to manage the industry strategically at the beginning of the year, 2018. We are not late still.

The Ministry has to take a lead by presenting the 10 year strategic road map for the plantation agribusiness and then the rest of the stake holders will follow suit.

The N.I.PM must now use the definition developed by the C.P.S to secure the membership of the OPA thus gaining a deserving position in the society for the Planter profession.

Then the Planters could join hands with the rest of the professionals and work towards national goals rather living in isolation. As far as we are aware that the OPA is waiting until the NIPM send the application without which nothing could happen.

The writer is a former senior planter, agricultural Adviser, visiting agent and freelance plantation journalist

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