(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has instructed officials to immediately launch a comprehensive public-private partnership program for food security.
The President Monday (May 30) held a discussion at the President’s House in Colombo with the relevant officials on the cultivation activities of the Yala season and mining possible food shortages in the future.
The President said negotiations with several countries to meet the fertilizer requirement have been successful and therefore, urged all farmers not to give up cultivation during the Yala season due to shortage of fertilizer or any other reason.
The President pointed out that a National Fertilizer Policy should be formulated expeditiously for the importation, distribution, proper management, awareness and coordination of farmers and officials.
The President also said that the full mediation of the Ministry of Agriculture should be directed to carry out cultivation activities using chemical or organic fertilizers as per the wishes of the farmers.
By identifying paddy fields that are not used for cultivation during the Yala season and encouraging the cultivation of essential crops including green gram, cowpea and soya, farmers can be given the opportunity to earn higher incomes, he pointed out.
The President instructed to expedite the release of Kandakadu farms belonging to the National Livestock Development Board for cultivation of maize, soya and other crops.
The government owns a large percentage of uncultivated land. It was decided to identify those lands and hand them over to young farmers.
Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera said the cultivation of home gardens and lands where government offices are located should be encouraged. All public servants from Ministers, Members of Parliament and other political leaders should contribute and set a precedent.
It was also decided to identify all the crops to be cultivated and to start a cultivation promotion week jointly in all provinces. A decision was taken to provide unlimited funds to the Provincial Councils for agriculture, livestock and fresh water fisheries.
President Rajapaksa instructed the government to make optimal use of the Eppawala phosphate deposit to produce fertilizer containing phosphorus required for the forthcoming Maha season.
Measures to provide animal feed to control the prices of milk, eggs and poultry were also discussed at length.
Plans have been made to reduce post-harvest losses, save food, store food, preserve and increase the value of agro products, introduce and popularize alternative foods.
Also, steps have been taken to implement a number of programs including introduction of methods to prevent diseases and pests in crops and promotion of self-employment related to agricultural products, Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture MBR Pushpakumara said.
Chief of Staff to the President Anura Dissanayake and Heads of Line Institutions under the Ministry of Agriculture were also present on the occasion.