The recently released Human Development Report has ranked Sri Lanka 73 in the ‘High Human Development’ category for the year 2014. The report was released by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on December 14 in Ethiopian Capital of Adis Ababa.

Accordingly, Sri Lanka has been ranked the highest among the countries in the South Asian region. India is ranked at 130th in the ‘medium development’ countries along with Bhutan (132), the Maldives has been ranked at 104 while Bangladesh has been placed at 142.

Nepal (145) Afghanistan (171) and Pakistan (147) have been placed in the ‘low development’ category.

biz2According to the report which has ranked 188 countries, Sri Lanka has seen a gradual improvement in human development, reaching 0.757 in the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2014 from 0.679 in 2000.

The report indicated that there was a positive relationship between work and human development as far as Sri Lanka was concerned, and added that most workers in the formal sector retire in their 60s, and a relatively small fraction are employed part- or full-time. “But casual workers and self-employed workers tend to keep their full-time jobs for many more years,” it said.

“Sri Lanka has integrated human resources and employment strategies in its National Human Resources and Employment Strategy, which began in 2014, to reduce unemployment and create more work opportunities. In Sri Lanka, annual job growth is 12 percent,” the Human Development Report (HDR) further added.

The Human Development Index (HDI) is monitored annually by the Human Development Report (HDR).

The top five countries in rank order of HDI are: Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands, with no changes from 2014.

The Bottom five countries in rank order of HDI are: Niger, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Chad, and Burundi.

President Maithripala Sirisena in his contribution to the report focused on the country’s agriculture sector and highlighted several challenges faced by the sector at present. “Development of new technologies for controlling pests and weeds and improving the productivity of crops to keep abreast of competition is one challenge. It is connected to overuse, pollution and serious health issues, reducing labour productivity,” he said.

The President pointed out that sustainable means of supplying water and other resources for agriculture was the second challenge. “A third is the population growth, industrialization and urbanization that have made water and land more scarce and land less productive,” he added.

Unplanned use of forest land for development purposes has dried the groundwater table, reducing the availability of water for agriculture. “Such developments have exposed hillsides to acute weather conditions. The top soils of the slopes unprotected by trees are washed off,” the President had said.

The President also pointed out that the country’s agriculture sector had changed from what it was half a decade ago.

“Today’s farmers are not subsistence farmers. They grow crops for commercial purposes. Some focus on integrated agricultural production enterprises aimed at adding value,” Sirisena said.

He said that therefore, directly replicating the governance structures adopted by village farming societies would not be suitable in today’s context. “But self-governance, knowledge of environmental resources and their protection as well as solutions for dealing with resource scarcity are all lessons we can learn from the practices of village farming communities of the past,” he added.