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Monday, 16 August 2010

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Win-win solution for producer and consumer

It was reported last week that the Government has taken a decision to stock the paddy harvest of the North, East and North Central provinces in the Gampaha district. This is a wise move. The harvest could be transported in bulk to Gampaha and milled with the assistance of small and medium size millers there. There is an ideal centre at Maradagahamula to locate these facilities.

It was also found that there are enough unutilized storage facilities in the Gampaha district. This would do away with the need for extra facilities at the three above mentioned rice producing districts. Once these facilities are established and functioning Gampaha would be able to supply almost the entire demand of the Western Province, i.e. Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara districts. No doubt this would help lower the selling price of rice in Colombo and the adjoining districts.

With the Paddy Marketing Board buying sufficient stocks at guaranteed price the implementation of this scheme would benefit both the producer and the consumer.

It is also reported that the bumper harvests are being reaped in the North and East. This no doubt is a great boon to the farmers of these areas whose paddy lands were laid waste all these years due to the war. With the release of all paddy lands back to the farmers, we could now expect markets to be flooded with the extra harvests contributing to lowering of rice prices. With the concession of Government subsidies now reaching these farmers, the country can expect not only bumper paddy production but also high yields in other crops that these areas were famous for in the past.

It looks as if the country will be well served by its agriculture sector soon with the end of the war opening up large vistas in this regard. Time was when the East formed the rice bowl of Sri Lanka which produced the bulk of the rice supplies.

The industrious nature of the Northern farmer was also an important factor that resulted in the heavy output of agriculture produce. Not only that, paddy cultivation is also booming in the tracts that once formed the border villages with the end to terrorism.

Paddy lands that were abandoned are now converted into lush green fields with golden sheaves of paddy. The Paddy Marketing Board has already allocated Rs. 9,000 million to purchase the Yala harvest in Anuradhapura. The rehabilitation of the many irrigation schemes too is bound to bring more areas under paddy cultivation.

With the Government now offering a stable guaranteed price for paddy, the farmers appear to be a contended lot. Add to this, the involvement of the private sector too in the purchase of paddy there is no risk of the farmers having to destroy their crop as in the past. Our farmer still forms the backbone of the nation and as such is given pride of the place by President Mahinda Rajapaksa who has doled out a generous fertilizer subsidy and other concessions for the purchase of tractors and agricultural implements to the farmer.

It appears Sri Lanka is on the road to self sufficiency in rice now that all paddy lands in the country are being put under the plough. Therefore every incentive should be given to the farmer to increase production. Rice imports should not be done haphazardly as this would hurt the farmer. Steps should also be taken to stop the exploitation of the farmer by middlemen and tradesmen.

The farmer should also not be made a pawn in political games. We are here referring to the recent burning of some paddy crops in Amparai in a bid to show the frustration of farmers allegedly unable to dispose of their paddy harvests.

It was later revealed that a political hand was behind the whole episode to embarrass the Government.

Steps should also be taken to prevent exodus of the next generation of our farmers into other vocations. This is already taking place in other traditional sectors such as fisheries.

This would have a telling effect on the country’s agricultural production. Agriculture should be made a more rewarding and attractive proposition by the introduction of modern methods as is done in other countries. This would somewhat prevent the progeny of farmers seeking out greener pastures in this modern age. If not we will lose our agricultural base and all food crops will have to be imported at great cost.

A bountiful economy

We are aware that after many centuries Sri Lanka is ready to make a great and significant mark in the world. A symbol of this is the ceremonial intake of sea water to this great port today.

Full Story

Mandate of Lessons Learnt

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has been appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa under the provisions of Section Two of the Commissions of Inquiry Act No. 17 of 1948 (as amended).

Full Story

Hussein Onyango never died (He’s being killed daily, though)

Hussein Onyango. Have you heard this name? It is the name of a Kenyan. Onyango was not his last name. We will get to that later. The man was imprisoned without trial for two years. He was tortured. All this for resisting British imperialism.

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