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Government Gazette

President seeks new thrust for agriculture in North

Meets with father of Green Revolution:

President Mahinda Rajapaksa sought the need for a new thrust in the agricultural development of the North, as the people are resettled and they return to their traditional livelihoods, mainly agriculture.

He sought the assistance of Prof. M. S. Swaminathan, who is considered the Father of the Indian Green Revolution to help in the agricultural development of the North, which has been devastated by the recent war with the LTTE and the livelihoods of the people there shattered.

During a meeting with Prof. Swaminathan at Temple Trees on Tuesday, President Rajapaksa said the Government’s priority was to give hope to the people of the North who had suffered immensely under the tyranny of the LTTE, and sought the help of the great Indian agriculturist to help finalize a road map for rehabilitation of the displaced with enhanced restoration of their occupations in agriculture and fisheries.

Prof. Swaminathan was told that over 80 percent of the population in the Northern Province covering Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Mannar depend on agriculture and allied occupations for their livelihood and revival and revitalization of agriculture is the need of the hour.

The President requested Prof. Swaminathan to review and provide his inputs to the strategy for agricultural and fisheries development of the resettled people that the Government had already prepared.

The Indian agriculturist, who was optimistic about the development of the North, told the President that every calamity also presented an opportunity.

“A new chapter in the agriculture of the Northern Province can be opened up by introducing farmers to the use of soil health cards and more income per drop of water techniques. Post harvest processing and value addition are also essential, particularly for increasing earning opportunities for women,” he said.

The President was keen to have special attention paid to women in agriculture and said that initially the State banks would make available credit for both on-farm and off-farm livelihood opportunities.

He welcomed India’s assistance in strengthening agricultural research and training, which would be timely, as there is a need to move fast, as government machinery, whether in Sri Lanka or India, tends to move slowly.

The possibility of choosing an appropriate centre in Vavuniya for strengthening participatory research and education for farmers, and the use of mobile soil-testing vans, farm machinery and other essential equipment to revitalize the agriculture economy, were also discussed.

On fisheries sector development, Prof. Swaminathan, was of the view that it would be useful to develop one of the existing centres in the North into a “Fish for all” training centre based on the model set up at Poonpahar by the M.S. Swaminathan Foundation.


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