One of the most important ways by which research influences policy is for the researcher to become a policy maker. In 2006-07 Harsha de Silva was leading LIRNEasia’s ag info research. As Deputy Minister for Planning and Economic Affairs, this is what he’s telling audiences now:
Farmers are not poor because they don’t get the subsidy, farmers are poor because their agricultural markets are not working. There is no way in which officials can sit in the food department and solve the problems of the volatility of the prices in vegetables. It can never be done. It can only be done if we ensure agriculture markets work, farmers have access to credit, they have insurance instruments that they can hedge against the weather conditions. If the people who are making the decisions are not convinced about making markets work, you will fail. Ranil Wickremesinghe is convinced that it is through the market mechanism that we can take this country forward. The game plan must be theoretically robust, sound and must be able to defend it at university anywhere. We are very clear that markets have to work. We will ensure we will do whatever necessary, whether it is the agricultural market, financial market, information market, that they work.
We await his plans and then their implementation.