Inventors and the Sri Lanka Inventors Commission (SLIC) bemoaned the society’s negative attitude towards purchasing products with the ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ label and lamented the lack of an international mechanism to promote locally developed innovations and inventions.

With the view of promoting locally developed innovations, inventions and products globally in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the Asian regions, the SLIC is working with the Export Development Board in order to establish an international mechanism.

Meanwhile in the context of the Government imposing a ban on polythene, grocery bags, shopping bags, lunch sheets and polystyrene boxes and a need arising thereby for an alternative, an inventor from the South has invented a machine which can extract fibres from the pseudostem of the banana plants which in turn makes up a mesh sheet of thin fibres. The said inventor has used this material to make flower pots and eco-friendly bags and packaging via a manual process. Under the SLIC’s investor grant scheme, four machines at a cost of
Rs. 2 million are being imported from India to increase the efficiency of the process and thereby commercialize, Commissioner – SLIC, Dr. Mahesh Edirisinghe said. Embilipitiya and Hambantota, the latter in the South, have an abundance of banana crops. Plus, once the clusters of fruits have been harvested, the trunk decays and remains largely unused.
“In the area near his house, he has already established   a plant and small scale factory. Only the infrastructure that is the four machines need to be installed. This byproduct would be an alternate replacement for polythene and if manufacturing and production would be successful, could be introduced island-wide. Within a maximum period of two months, the process can be operational. After beautifying the product it can be introduced to the market where we expect that it would be accepted by the society,” he added.

It is also reported that the Ministry of Environment and the Central Environment Authority, acceding to a request by polythene importers and producers are also looking at the manufacture of bio-degradable polythene, and are considering the reduction of the cost of raw materials utilized in the process.

When it comes to locally developed products, there is an attitudinal issue in our society which is prevalent in that where anything is made abroad in countries such as Japan and the United States of America are thought of as being of good quality, yet at the same time, we are reluctant to accept products with the ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ label due to the perceived consideration that they are of inferior quality. “Recently, a local inventor informed us that when he had had the ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ label on his product with a Japanese style typography, there had been good sales. People want the best quality and value for the money they spend. Therefore, what needs to be done is to improve and uplift the quality standards of local products,” he explained.

Elsewhere, the SLIC pointed out that Milco Private Limited was planning on establishing 52,000 animal husbandry villages, specifically those involving milk cows and milk farming. A dip cooler that has been invented locally would be pivotal to the success of the said project, which is estimated to cost Rs 30 million. “Generally the milk obtained from milk farmers in the morning is transported to factories. The milk farmers are however reluctant to milk the cows in the evening even though the milk obtained in the evening is reported to be better in nourishment. This is because they have no way of preserving the milk until the stock is collected the following day. Here is where the dip cooler machine comes in, It can be inserted into the aluminum bucket in which the milk is collected and operated like a cake mixture, which in turn results in the temperature of the milk bring brought to a degree lower than it should be, thereby allowing for the milk to remain preserved for a period of approximately 20 hours. We have test reports attesting to the said outcome,” he noted.

Whilst further calling for the Government to introduce a legal regime which would allow for local inventions to have a market locally, Dr. Edirisinghe added that they would on September 28 at the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre have an inventor – investor forum where presentations in relation to 50 inventions with a commercial potential would be made to an audience comprised of the representatives of industries and chambers, and are thereby hoping that public-private partnerships or joint ventures or licensing agreements would be reached regarding at least five to 10 such inventions.
“To increase domestic consumption of local inventions, this is something that everyone from President Maithripala Sirisena to the road and street sweeper must be involved in. This will not take place overnight. There must at least be a five year transition plan. With regard to small inventions, we can impose a high tax on exports and decrease imports. Thus far even when taken case by case we have been unorganized in this regard. We have to be organized,” he emphasized.