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Better storage for perishables

COLOMBO: Expressing concern over the failure to rectify the long-standing 'Post Harvest losses', which has resulted in price hikes of some perishable goods, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has directed the Consumer Services Ministry Officials to explore the possibility of having a more sophisticated storage system for fruits and vegetables.

Meeting top-level officials representing the ministries of Agriculture Development and Agrarian Services, Trade, Marketing Consumer Services and Co-operatives, Petroleum Resources and Power and Energy, at the National Economic Council (NEC) established to pursue the proper implementation of policies for a sustainable development, President Rajapaksa at the NEC's tenth session at Temple Trees on Tuesday (19), said that perishable goods such as onions and potatoes were skyrocketing in price due lack of proper storage facilities

President Rajapaksa also pursued the reasons for the fall in production of certain agricultural produce. Census and Statistics Director General S. Vidyarathna pointed out that the drop was only in the paddy harvest in Batticaloa and not in the other districts. However, Finance Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera was of the view that the harvest had dropped due to the direct impact of adverse climatic conditions such as the drought.

He underscored the necessity of formulating definite targets in the future. "Sans definite targets, the agricultural sector is destined to lag behind the services and construction sectors which have rapid growth rates," Dr. Jayasundera said.Responding to Consumer Services Secretary R.M.K. Rathnayake's view pertaining to the considerable price parity between the Budget Shop, Lak Sathosa and Cooperative outlets and the other private retail outlets, President Rajapaksa directed the relevant officials to obtain the optimum use of the available print and electronic media facilities, in order to convey the 'reduced prices' message to the consuming public.

The issues relating to the most suitable crop for the regions, including maize cultivation coming under the 'Hadhabima Authority', 'Drip Irrigation Technology' incorporating solar energy and the use of organic fertiliser, came under intense discussion.

Power and Energy Ministry Secretary M.M.C. Ferdinando opined that as it now stands, there would not be a necessity for a power cut. He also pointed out the need of a National Power and Energy Research Institute.

The Petroleum Resources Ministry Secretary A.P.A. Gunasekera asserted that following discussions with Prime Minister Rathasiri Wickramanayake, the intended petroleum price hike was halted. The production of lubricants and provision of bunkering to ships was also considered.

Gunasekera further said that his ministry would obtain the services of already identified Sri Lankans serving overseas and possessed knowledge of oil exploration. He added that they were in the process of implementing the 2005 Auditor General's recommendations.

 

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