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Doubling Rice yield achievable within next six harvest seasons – Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Plantation

Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Plantation, Janaka Dharmakeerthi, announced that necessary measures are in place to achieve President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s goal of doubling the rice harvest within the next six harvest seasons. He highlighted the introduction of a technical package aimed at this objective and emphasized that the Ministry of Agriculture is effectively handling the increasing demand for food, surpassing traditional agricultural practices.

The Agriculture and Plantation Ministry Secretary shared these updates during a press briefing titled “Two Years of Progress and Advancement” held at the Presidential Media Center (PMC) today (01). He also noted that the agriculture industry is already reaping the benefits of new technology implementations.

He further elaborated:

The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for going beyond traditional farming methods to meet the increasing demand for food, a task that is currently being managed successfully. We have implemented the necessary measures to meet President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s goal of doubling the rice harvest within the next six cultivation seasons. To achieve this, we have introduced a technical package as part of the agricultural modernization program. Additionally, we have arranged for the utilization of all paddy fields, including fallow fields, for rice cultivation, while using the remaining cultivated land for other crops.

It is worth noting that we have already achieved successful results in paddy cultivation, with an anticipated harvest of 800,000 metric tons of rice needed for the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture cannot directly intervene in paddy prices. However, the government aims for fair price maintenance within an open economy. While occasional price hikes may occur without government intervention, persistent increases may prompt action. Currently, only two types of rice are kept in stock, but future plans include maintaining safe stocks of all rice types for market release. In the dry zone, fallow fields are being allocated to other crops based on recommendations from the Department of Agriculture, which is a positive step for food production.

To support agricultural modernization and address food needs beyond traditional cultivation, Rs.2500 million has been allocated in the budget. Interest-free loans are being provided for various agricultural activities in 26 Divisional Secretariat Divisions, and the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurship Project is being implemented. This initiative has increased youth entrepreneurship opportunities in agriculture, plantation industries, and animal and fishery industries. The introduction of new technology has successfully attracted young people to these sectors.

Currently, special programs are being implemented to target international markets in the agricultural industry, extending beyond local boundaries. There is a growing trend in exporting fruit crops such as strawberries, mangoes, and pineapples. Additionally, a cold storage facility is being established in Dambulla to address yield fluctuations and crop losses. Although farmers are informed about suitable crops, they often produce according to the domestic needs of the country. The management of economic centers under our ministry has successfully reduced crop damage by about 50%. With the support of farmers, we are working on a systematic method to release crops to the market. We are also in discussions with the Ministry of Transport to use the railway service to reduce post-harvest damage, particularly during transportation. Efforts are being made to deploy trains from Beliatta to other provinces to facilitate this process.

https://island.lk/doubling-rice-yield-achievable-within-next-six-harvest-seasons-secretary-to-the-ministry-of-agriculture-and-plantation/ QR Code

Published Date: July 1, 2024

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