Home » Government to introduce first ever National Agricultural Policy soon

Government to introduce first ever National Agricultural Policy soon

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Sri Lanka is set to introduce first ever National Agricultural Policy and it will be presented in Parliament shortly by the subject Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.

The expert committee appointed to prepare the National Agricultural Policy informed that they have already finalized draft of this new policy.

Former Agriculture Director Generals, Ministry Secretaries as well as university professors and agricultural representatives were in the committee including Senior Prof. Buddhi Marambe, Prof. Udith Jayasinghe, Prof. Palitha Weerakkody, Prof. M.B. Rathnathilaka, Dr. B.V.R. Punyawardena, Dr. D.S. Kuruppuarachchi, former Director Generals of Agriculture Dr. Ajanta de Silva and Dr. W.M.M Weerakoon.

The Minister said that the final draft will be submitted to the parliament for approval, and after that everyone should work for the implementation of the new Agriculture Act.

“ A s um of US $400 million have been spent on the import of rice in a period of 10 months. Therefore, it is necessary to give everyone’s support for the implementation of the national agricultural policy,” he added.

Following the identification of about 100,000 acres of uncultivated land, the Ministry of Agriculture has planned to acquire the land for the Government for a period of five years, with effect from this year 2023.

Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera said that the approximately 100,000 acres of land remain uncultivated although most are suited for cultivation purposes.

The Agricultural Lands Act, No. 42 of 1973 will be amended accordingly so that these lands can be given to youths who have no lands to cultivate,” he said.

Upon establishing an agreement with those who cultivate the respective land under the five-year programme, Amaraweera said that landowners may opt to cultivate the land if they so desire, at the end of the five-year period.

If the landowners choose to not cultivate the land, he said that steps will be taken to direct those who cultivate the land to give a part of the harvest to the landlords as ground rent.

Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector, mainly paddy cultivation, has suffered a major setback since April 2021 with the Cabinet of Ministers’ decision to ban the import and use of chemical fertilizers and agrochemicals, as per a proposal made by then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Since then, many farmers are reported to have abandoned cultivating their fields, resulting in the fall of harvests in several cultivating seasons since.

The Asian Development Bank will grant Rs. 8 billion to be distributed among the 1.2 million farmer families and youths who will participate in the massive paddy cultivation programme.

In addition to these 100,000 acres, another 800,000 hectares of paddy fields will be cultivated in the next Yala season in 2023.

The utilisation of 5,000 hectares of land in Moneragala, Kotiyagala and Kabilitta for farming was also proposed as a precautionary measure to prevent the food crisis which is expected in the future.

This decision was taken at a meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat under the patronage of the President’s Senior Adviser on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayake recently.

Although nearly 8,000 hectares of land in these areas were owned by the Forest Department for reforestation, it has been decided to commence reforestation activities in only 3,000 hectares of land in which saplings have already been planted.

The temporary distribution of the remaining 5,000 hectares of land amongst farmers for cultivation until the necessary facilities for reforestation were prepared was also discussed at the meeting.

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