President Maithripala Sirisena says that the National Economic Council expects to take immediate steps to stop importing of all non-essential food items as well as unhealthy foods into the country.
He made these remarks at the opening of the Agricultural Exhibition held at the at the Training Institute of Department of Agriculture in Bombuwala, Kalutara.
The exhibition was organized by the Western Provincial Ministry of Agriculture under the theme ‘Saru Diviyata Krushi Saviya’ will be held till 27th September.
Addressing the gathering, the President further said that more than 25 billion rupees is spent annually to import essential food items. President Sirisena said that it is essential to produce food required for our consumption in our own country. He pointed out that self-sufficiency in food was the identity and the culture of our country for past thousands of years and it should be protected. He also said it is important that we give value to our products, if we are to help the agriculture economy as well as the national economy.
The battle of National food production will be commenced in the next month, to make a new transformation in the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka, while minimizing the loss incurred due to the recent drought and floods that affected the country, reducing the agricultural production. The relevant circulars and instruction leaflets have already issued to all institutions, he added.
The President said that he had instructed the Finance Ministry to impose a 100% tax on imported big onions, considering the difficulties faced by the local onion farmers.
Furthermore, under the battle of National food production programme, it is expected to cultivate all the lands in the public and private sectors, and the government will take steps to encourage those who are cultivating and to take legal action against those who do not cultivate, the President said that adding he believe that everyone will join hands together in this initiative considering it as a humanitarian operation to eliminate poverty from the country, but not in a way imposing legal actions or constitutional law.
Expressing his views regarding the tours he made to the USA to attend the Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly, the President said that Sri Lanka has won the blessings and friendly relations with all the countries in the world including prominent world organizations such as the United Nations.
After declaring open the exhibition, President Sirisena made an inspection tour of the exhibition. He also opened the newly built two-storey building at the Training Institute of Department of Agriculture in Bombuwala, Kalutara, the building was completed at a cost of 46 million rupees.
Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, Governor of the Western Province K. C. Logeswaran, Chief Minister Isuru Devapriya, Western Province Agriculture Minister Gamini Thilakasiri participated on this occasion.