Sri Lankan Minister Arundika Fernando recently proved that he is willing to ‘literally’ go to any length to highlight a problem. On Friday, the Minister held a press conference at his estate in Dankotuwa town of Sri Lanka to talk about the shortage of coconuts in the island country. What came next would have probably come as a surprise to media persons. Arundika Fernando started climbing a coconut tree using a climbing device and started addressing the media, holding a coconut in one hand.
Arundika Fernando is the Sri Lankan Minister of Coconut, Kithul, Palmyrah and Rubber Cultivation Promotion and Related Industrial Product Manufacturing and Export Diversification. Stating that there is a shortage of about 700 million coconuts in the state, the Minister encouraged the public to use every acre of land to plant coconut trees and boost the industry to attract foreign exchange to the country.
In the video that has surfaced, a few people can be seen helping Minister Arundika Fernando mount himself onto a tree climbing device, reportedly invented by a resident of Warakapola. With the yellow belt of the device strapped around his waist and feet fastened onto a pair of pedals, the Minister clambered up the tree, stopped midway and started addressing the media persons.
Sri Lankan news outlet News First quoted the Minister as saying, “We hope to make use of the available plot of land to cultivate coconuts and boost the industry, which would generate foreign exchange to the country.”
He also said that the price of coconuts is increasing due to a growing demand for coconut-related products across the globe and vowed not to import these fruits.
According to Ada Derana, a television network in Sri Lanka, there is also a shortage of tappers in the Coconut, Kithul, Palmyrah and toddy industries, which is, in turn, caused by the lack of safety in climbing these trees. While speaking about such innovative tree climbing devices, he also highlighted that the ropes used for crossing from one tree to another are often old and unsafe.
“Those who have been employed to pick coconuts must be paid LKR 100 per tree (Rs 39),” he added while talking to the media atop the tree on Friday.
Watch: Sri Lankan Minister addressing the media atop a coconut tree