(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – District Farmers’ Representatives on behalf of 1.1 million farmers islandwide have urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa not to back down from the steps taken to use organic fertilizer, President’s Media Division (PMD) said Thursday.
The farmers’ representatives noted that it was their absolute duty and responsibility to return to the old farming methods and provide the people with a non-toxic diet. They added that the people will commend the President for his decision to nourish a healthy future generation.
They have assured that all farmers would support President Rajapaksa in overcoming the challenge of going for an agriculture based on organic fertilizer, The farmers’ representatives assured the President that all farmers in the country would support the President in overcoming the organic fertilizer challenge as a team, for the benefit of all people in Sri Lanka just like the country winning the war against terrorism.
Farmers’ representatives expressed these views during a meeting with the District Farmers Representatives of Sri Lanka National Farmers’ Organization held at the Presidential Secretariat Thursday morning (July 01). According to the PMD, the organization comprises 1.1 million farmers, 17,000 farmer organizations and 563 Agrarian Service Centers.
The President briefed the farmers’ representatives on the measures to be taken by the government to address the use of organic fertilizers.
He has pointed out that this was not a sudden decision and this initiative was launched to fulfil a promise made in his “Vision of Prosperity” policy statement, as the presidential candidate.
Governments on a number of previous occasions have tried to focus on organic fertilizer cultivation. However, the President said that the reasons for their failure would be thoroughly studied and the new program would be implemented.
Some people try to point this out as a reverse journey, however, the use of organic fertilizers, which is a new trend in the entire world, would take the country on a new path of agrarian economy, the President emphasized.
“Many who speak out against the program pay higher price for fruits and vegetables, produced using organic fertilizers. But they don’t pay attention to the farmers suffering from the use of chemical fertilizers.”
“Cultivation has been largely paralyzed over the past five years, but the policy of the current government is to uplift the agricultural sector. The increase in the purchase price of paddy from Rs. 30 to Rs. 50 per kilogram is a step taken to encourage farmers. Later, farmers were able to sell their paddy at between Rs. 65 and Rs. 68 per kilo. The government has intervened to control the price of rice to protect consumers, the PMD statement said.
The President noted that the government will make the Rs. 80,000 million spent annually on the importation of chemical fertilizers available for farmers while protecting the future generations from non-communicable diseases
The President stated that, in order to implement the program continuously and successfully, the required amount of organic fertilizer including herbicides and pesticides will be made available to the farmers in the same manner as the chemical fertilizers were provided. At the same time, local entrepreneurs and industrialists will be given the opportunity to produce the required fertilizer locally. The farmers can also produce the organic fertilizer they need. The government has made plans to provide the funds required for this purpose.
The President has assured that the income earned by the farmers will not be reduced and if it does, the government would compensate so the farmer will not have to suffer.
During the meeting, Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage handed over the “Farmers Insurance Scheme” to the President which was suspended during the previous government and will resume from today, according to the PMD.
The minister also revealed that the government is focusing on increasing the ‘farmer’s pension’. He guaranteed to take immediate steps to construct 105 new warehouses to store paddy, to provide financial assistance to Farmers’ Banks and to update the agricultural database expeditiously.
The President has also given the nod to increase the upper limit for contracts for farmers’ organizations from Rs. 2 million to Rs. 10 million for undertaking projects to rehabilitate tanks and canals. It was also decided to expand the scope for direct involvement of farmers when selling harvest at economic centers.
State Ministers Shasheendra Rajapaksa, Mohan de Silva, Dr. Seetha Arambepola, Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundera and Government Officials including Secretaries to the Ministries have also attended the said meeting.
Governments on a number of previous occasions have tried to focus on organic fertilizer cultivation. However, the President said that the reasons for their failure would be thoroughly studied and the new program would be implemented. Some people try to point this out as a reversal. However, the President emphasized that the use of organic fertilizers, which is a new trend in the world, would take the country on a new path of agrarian economy.