Focus needed on seed and sapling production, usage of fertilizer, President says

Sri Lankan presidential candidate and former defense chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa waves to media as he leaves the election commission after filing his nomination in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. A record 35 candidates filed nominations Monday for next month’s Sri Lankan presidential election, but the incumbent has opted not to seek a second term with the entry of Rajapaksa, who is considered the favorite. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Aug 25, 2020 (LBO) – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa calling on farmers to increase agro harvest in order to strengthen the local economy proposed a number of actions to reach this outcome.

The President emphasizes the importance of strengthening national agricultural economy in the context of global economic collapse due to COVID 19 pandemic.

President says that we 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 Monday.

Annual potato production in Sri Lanka stands at 80,000 tons. Annual consumer demand is 250,000 tons. 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 stated 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. Mr Rajapaksa also noted that maize production next year will reach self-sufficient level.

President highlighted the importance of using modern technology in the production of seeds and sapling, and therefore the requirement for conducting researches 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 8 years. President advised the officials to fill in the vacancies and devise a proper strategy to boost the industry.

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, 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.