(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that a national plan should be implemented to ensure food security and nutrition in Sri Lanka.
He made this observation speaking at the inauguration of the program at the Presidential Secretariat Tuesday to establish a Multi-sector Combined Mechanism for empowering of Rural Economic Revitalization Centers to ensure food security and nutrition.
The president pointed out that agriculture should be made a foreign exchange earning sector by way of enhancing production and competitiveness through the modernization of agriculture.
The President who emphasized the need to work in an organized and collective manner to solve the food issue in the face of the global food crisis said that everyone should join hands with the government’s new program to ensure food security and nutrition.
The President’s statement is as follows;
The government has got to face the challenge of provision of food to all since the country experienced a minus seven economy. He added when the economy shrunk the people would deprive of living.
The construction sector is experiencing a massive unemployment rate by now and all have to face this situation until the government finds funds for them.
A proportion of the people in the country have been deprived of food while the middle class have lost their income. The country would have to face the same situation which has been aggravated by the global food crisis, the next year as well. Due to the Ukrainian war, we don’t get the flour supplies while the floods in Pakistan have destroyed their farming lands. The rise of the food items in the world market due to the shortage of food affects the smaller countries such as Sri Lanka.
With this situation, India has brought the food export to a close while China too has reduced. This situation would not come to an end by this December but could last for two years. Thus the country would have to face a food crisis. Even the fuel price could rise in the winter.
Food security should be guaranteed to get rid of this economic crisis and the same food should be produced locally. The food security program was initiated in order to achieve this end. The government has found USD 200 million for the provision of fertilizer for the Maha season cultivation which has already initiated. Another sum of USD 20 million should be found to cater the fullest requirement.
Discussions in progress at the Ministerial level to get the needy seeds for cultivation from the countries such as Thailand as there is a shortage of seeds for some areas. When implementing the cultivation program it should be assessed as to what is required and how could it be fulfilled. If there is a surplus of harvest the market would crash.
There should be a national program to guarantee the food production and the same should be implemented at the Provincial, district and divisional secretariat level with participation of all.
The powers of the government are vested on the executive while the powers of the Provincial councils are vested on the President. By now the Provincial Councils are not in function. All these 03 sectors should be brought together and a combined project should be implemented make this endeavor a success. The district secretaries have been full powers to implement those programs.
In the meantime the Ministry secretaries and the department heads should convey the same message to the people at their levels and no one should give excuses to their failures. As an initiation hold a discussion on Friday with the stakeholders, plan the work and then work the plan. Then at the divisional level combine all and direct them to the production.
Get all the five officers at the Grama Niladhari division level and the assistance of the principles if necessary, and commence cultivation program with their assistance. The discretion to decide what to do and where to do it is with them according to the plan.
For the first time, the Grama Niladhari division is used not only for administration but for production as well. Then the divisional secretariats are also joined the production program. When this program is initiated in such a manner same could be used even for development in the future.
The second is to amassing the harvest and reduction of the wastage. These officials will be educated on the matter and the necessary assistance could also be provided for it. If the wastage could be reduced by 10 percent or 25percent the attempt is successful.
There should be a mechanism to store any type of food and the assistance of the private sector is sought in this endeavor. Provided that all these endeavors made successful at Maha Season cultivation, hopefully the country could come out of the chaotic situation.
The tourism should also be developed while some government businesses need to be restructured. We take measures set up a pool of USD 03 billion at the initiation the rupee could be strengthened by next year and move forward.
Next up is the Agriculture Modernization Program. Efforts are being made to increase agricultural production and increase competition. By the end of 2023, we should go for the modernization program. We should earn foreign exchange from agriculture. Not only oil, coconut, rubber. By 2050, our population will be 25 million. Adult size is too much.
By way of Agriculture Modernization Program efforts are being taken to increase agricultural production and increase competition and it is expected to commence it by the end of 2023. The country is needed to earn foreign exchange through agriculture. The population from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia increases by 500 million. Then we can provide them with the food they need.
There is a collapse in the small industries as well. Inability to pay the bank loan is an issue. The issues at the ground level should be addressed or there would be a big disturbance. If the problems are solved at the village level, the background of the economy for the next 25 years will be set.
All administrative institutions required for this work are under the Prime Minister. All should avoid the shortcomings and move forward to make this a success. We will start this program by the first week of October and continue it to bring about a positive change in the Sri Lankan economy.