Agriculture, soul of economy – Minister Yapa Abeywardane


Agriculture, soul of economy – Minister Yapa Abeywardane

Growing more food

* Divi Neguma
* Api Wavamu Rata Nagamu
* Seeds, technica guidance, fertilizer provided
* Polythene houses introduced
* Solar powered drip irrigation system for Northern farmers


Agriculture is the soul of the country’s economy. There are various
types of programs which have been introduced to the country. The
Agriculture Minister has a big responsibility to develop the country’s
agriculture. The Daily News spoke to Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa
Abeywardane on the initiatives taken by the Ministry to develop the
country’s agriculture sector



Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane

Q: The whole world is at present talking about the food
crisis. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization the world
could face a food crisis in 2011. In this background how will Sri Lanka
address the problem?

A: The only way to face this situation is to cultivate every
inch of lands to grow more food. There are various types of programs
initiated such as Divi Neguma, Api Vavamu Rata Nagamu to encourage
people to grow more fruits and vegetables in their home gardens.

These massive cultivation programs will help people try to get
maximum use of their home gardens. The Ministry provides high quality
seeds, technical guidance and fertilizer for them.

Q: We have recent experiences of severe changes in weather
conditions which had a negative affect on agriculture. What is your idea
about this?

A: The year is divided into two cultivation seasons known as
Yala and Maha coinciding with the monsoons. The country is also divided
into three zones with respect to the rainfall. So farmers do their
cultivations considering these seasons and zones.

The Ministry will introduce polythene houses with improved technology
for farmers. We have also introduced the solar powered drip irrigation
system specially for Northern Province farmers.

There is a big demand for it at present. Because of this system
farmers get big profits of more than Rs 50,000. The Ministry hopes to
introduce this system for farmers in other areas after getting Treasury
approval.

Q: Presently there is a big demands for hybrid varieties. Some
people say that the nutritional level is less in these hybrids. Any
comments?

A:We always try to get a big yield and make maximum use of our land.
From these hybrids varieties we can get a big harvest even if we have a
limited area to cultivate. Also we couldn’t cultivate in six months time
due to the floods. So we have to use these technologies to increase the
harvest and meet the food crisis successfully. With these e-technologies
farmers also can get big profits.

Q: What kind of actions has the Ministry taken to develop
agriculture in the Northern and Eastern Provinces?

A: Agriculture is not a new thing for farmers in Northern and
Eastern Provinces. The Agriculture Ministry provides machinery
equipment, seeds and technical assistance for them. These farmers always
try to get maximum use of them.

Q: There should be proper maintenance of the produce to
achieve quality during harvest, post harvest and storage to provide high
quality products for consumers. This will help farmers make big profits.
What are the strategies that the Ministry adopted?

A: The Post Harvest Technology Institute engages in improving
the Post Harvest Technology of foods.

They have introduced plastic crates to farmers, collectors,
transporters, wholesale traders and retailers at subsidized prices to
avert serious financial losses during post operations from farmer to
consumer. They have also introduced technology to get maximum use of
seasonal crops too. Value addition and Dehydration are the main ways of
preserving fruits and vegetables.

Q: What are your future plans to develop this field?

A: President Mahinda Rajapaksa has a very clear vision for the
future of the country’s agriculture sector.

Mahinda Chintana clearly proves that. So as the Agriculture Minister,
I shall always give my fullest support to the President to develop
agriculture.

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