Five mafias obstructing growth in agri-sector - Minister

Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage at the inauguration of a workshop. Director General of Agriculture Dr.W.M.Weerakoon was present.

Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage yesterday stated that there are five mafias currently operating in agriculture which are obstructing the pro-country movement of building a manufacturing economy instead of an import economy.

The Minister stated that these large scale mafias such as paddy, rice, vegetables, seeds and fertilizers are completely destroying the future of agriculture in the country.

The Minister stated this while participating in a training workshop for Agriculture Instructors held at the Paddy Research Institute in Batalegoda.

A series of islandwide training workshops to arm officers with knowledge and technology that had not taken place for many years commenced yesterday at five locations.Training workshops were commenced at Batalegoda, Angunakolapelessa, Puliyankulama, Mahailukpallama, Bindunuwewa Agricultural Training Schools.

At one center, 250 agricultural instructors will be trained islandwide under the first phase. It is planned to train 600 Agrarian Service Officers and 9000 Agricultural Research Production Assistants in two more phases. The Agriculture Ministry has taken action to provide a 25 day residential training programme for each group.

Steps have been taken to provide specialized knowledge on digital technology as well as laws and regulations including the Cultivation Quarantine Act, Pesticides Act, including the cultivation of fruits in paddy fields using modern technology. The main objective of this workshop is to pass on the knowledge gained from this workshop to farmers through Agricultural Instructors, Agrarian Officers and Agricultural Research Production Assistants.

Speaking at the training workshop, Minister of Agriculture Mahindananda Aluthgamage said that agriculture has been given a special place in the vision of prosperity. The President’s objective is to create a productive economy in the country and stop the import economy completely. Forty percent are directly involved in agriculture in the country and thirty percent are indirectly engaged in agriculture.

It is reported that with the COVID situation today 75 percent of the country is directly and indirectly engaged in agriculture. That is why it has become imperative to equip the farmer with technology. Sri Lanka’s agricultural technology and research is on par with that of England. But the farmer is still engaged in 100-year-old traditional agriculture. Knowledge and technology do not go to the village.

There is no room for an agricultural advisor at the Agrarian Services Center. Agrarian officers who have advised agriculture and Agricultural Research Production Assistants do not work together. Knowledge does not go to the farmer. Therefore, we have coordinated all the other institutions of the Central Government and the Provincial Councils to work together.

That’s what this training does. There are five mafias operating in agriculture in this country. Sri Lanka is New Zealand’s second largest milk importer. Imports of chemical fertilizers earn more commissions than organic fertilizers. Most of the country’s seeds are still imported. Dried chilli is imported in total.

Because of the higher commissions, many people prefer to import than to produce. The use of urea has increased and blue children are being born in Norochcholai. Doctors estimate that 30 blind babies are born each month. The number of kidney and cancer patients is increasing day by day. But chemical fertilizers are imported. The Auditor General’s report has revealed that 55 laboratory reports were changed last year and 1.5 billion tonnes of substandard fertilizers were imported.

“I sent home 7 related ones that changed those records. Legal action against the former Fertilizer Chairman was taken. This has become a country where people are poisoned and killed knowingly. Therefore, this year fertilizer is given after inspecting the soil as required. Steps have been taken to provide soil testing kits to all Agrarian Service Centers for this purpose.

“We give the soil testing report to every farmer. We will provide all possible knowledge facilities and provisions and work to take technology to the village. All should work as one family to equip the farmer with knowledge and technology,” the Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Dr.W.M.Weerakoon said.

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