(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stating that it is high time to increase agro harvest in order to strengthen the local economy has proposed a number of actions to reach this outcome.
The President emphasizes the importance of strengthening the national agricultural economy in the context of global economic collapse due to COVID 19 pandemic.
The President says that the country should focus on seed and sapling production, usage of fertilizer, researches targeting innovations in agro field, storage and transportation and overcome the challenges in order to achieve targets in the next two years.
President Rajapaksa made these suggestions during a discussion to review future plans of the State Ministry of Paddy and Cereals, Organic food, Vegetables, Fruits, Chilies, Onions and Potatoes, Seed Production and High Tech Agriculture at the Presidential Secretariat.
Annual potato production in Sri Lanka stands at 80,000 tons. Annual consumer demand is 250,000 tons. The President noted that it was necessary to encourage the farmers to increase production to meet the demand locally, without importing potatoes.
Head of the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival, Basil Rajapaksa said that local productions could be increased via distribution of hybrid seeds and saplings developed using new technology to the farmers and added that they could minimize the importation of potatoes by encouraging consumers towards consumption of substitutes.
He also noted that maize production next year will reach self-sufficient levels.
President Rajapaksa highlighted the importance of using modern technology in the production of seeds and sapling, and therefore the requirement for conducting research in this aspect.
Measures to minimize wastage in storage and transportation were also discussed in depth.
Recruitments to the Department of Agriculture have not been made in the last eight years. The President advised the officials to fill in the vacancies and devise a proper strategy to boost the industry.
The President also emphasized the significance of appropriate use of high grade fertilizers and a policy decision to motivate people towards organic fertilizers to ensure a generation of healthy and productive citizens in the country.
Minister of Agriculture, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, State Minister Sasheendra Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President Dr. P.B.Jayasundera, officials attached to both the Ministry and State Ministry and representatives from a number of agricultural associations were present at the discussion.