President Maithripala Sirisena says he take steps to re-popularize our inherited indigenous food culture which is gradually diminishing. He said the steps would be taken to streamline the local food production process.
He said his ambition is to stop importation of every food item that can be produced within the Sri Lanka and lead the country to a self-sufficient economy.
The President made these remarks at a special meeting held on local food production at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (July 20).
The President recalled that the country is spending about Rs 154 billion every year for the importation of food items. He pointed out every food item except dhal, gram and apple can be produced within our country.
President Sirisena also pointed out this ambition should be achieved through a proper plan. “It should be actively carried out as a three year project, with the participation of the members of state sector as well as private sector”, he said.
Proper plans should be designed in consultation with all relevant authorities, the President said. He added that this is the right time for the public officials to attend to this as all the ministers and MPs were busy with their election campaigning.
The President instructed the officials to hand over the proposed plan within three weeks. He also pointed out the importance of receiving guidance and advice of eminent personnel in the field for formulating the plan.
“It is a necessity to identify the problems faced by farmers and to provide solutions to them in order to build a self-sufficient country”, he said. The Government will do everything possible to fulfill the needs of the farming community, President Sirisena added.
The ways of increasing food production while efficiently using agricultural lands were discussed in detail at the meeting. The need of implementing a strategy to make it obligatory to cultivate lands that are not being cultivated currently was emphasized during this meeting.
The President also explained the need of a programme to provide incentives to the farmer community, besides the food production plans. The programme should also include a competition to select Best Farmer at National Level and present Presidential Award. It should also highlight the need for use of scientific methods for farming while understanding the agricultural instincts of the farmer community. The programme should include the ‘Wap Magula’, which is an important cultural heritage, the President said.
Secretary to the President P.B.Abeykoon , Ministry Secretaries, Director General of Agriculture, Dr. Rohan Wijekoon and other officials were also participated in the discussion.