News

New action plan to revive agriculture

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

 

The Department of Agriculture has handed over a set of proposals with an action plan for the revival of agriculture in Sri Lanka to Minister of Agriculture, Wildlife, and Wildlife Conservation Mahinda Amaraweera.

An official of the Agriculture Ministry said that the proposals cover areas such as the importation of chemical fertilisers and organic farming, increasing local rice production, promoting the cultivation of crops targeting exports, meeting the national vegetable and fruit requirement, minimising the misuse of chemical fertiliser and similar inputs, and carrying out industrial research and development (R&D) activities.

Noting that the department has submitted these proposals to bring about a revival of agriculture in the country, Agriculture Department Director General Dr. Ajantha de Silva has emphasised that the assistance of all institutions under the Ministry is required for their implementation.

Speaking at the event, Amaraweera said that steps should be taken to implement these proposals without delay to increase the income of the farming community. He also instructed the relevant officials to take necessary steps in order to ensure the success of the ongoing Yala cultivation season and in particular, the forthcoming Maha season.

Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector, mainly paddy cultivation, has suffered a major setback since Apri 2021, with the Cabinet of Ministers decision to ban the import and use of chemical fertilisers and agrochemicals, as per a proposal made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Since then, farmers have been charging that they have not been able to get the expected harvest, despite the use of organic fertilisers provided by the Government. 

Following strong opposition from farmers and agronomists, the Government lifted the said ban in November of last year, but there is still a severe shortage of fertilisers and agrochemicals in the country. As a result, many farmers have abandoned their crops and agronomists have recently warned that this year’s Yala harvest would fall by at least 50%.