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Cultivate every bit of land possible, says Minister

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Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that the current severe drought situation may worsen in the future and if the next Maha Season fails, the country may have to face a food shortage.

A programme was held in Angunakolapelessa on Saturday (29) to provide 250 beneficiaries with the necessary plant sets under the home gardening programme implemented in 10 Grama Sewaka domains in the area. This home gardening programme has been started for families in 10 Grama Sewaka domains under the Sustainable Agricultural Development project started by Outreach Projects (Guarantee) Limited.

This programme has given extremely successful results so far. Farmers have been able to raise their living standards under the vegetable and fruit plantations, as well as poultry farming and cattle farming projects started by the SADP programme.

The Minister said that if the upcoming Maha Season fails, there may be a severe food shortage in this country and to face it, he requested that steps be taken to grow any food crop in every place where it can be cultivated.

“The entire world has been warned of a massive drought and food shortage. As a result, the Indian Government stopped the export of rice from last week. If our country needs rice, it is bought from India. But now India has stopped exporting rice, so we are not able to get rice. There is no money to import rice even if it is possible,” the Minister said.

“And there are no buffer stocks of food in our country. We also do not have stocks of paddy to use for emergency, as the Paddy Marketing Board did not buy paddy. Therefore, it is impossible to imagine how the people of the country will face the food shortage in the future. But still there is no water problem in other areas except in two or three districts. Therefore, I request the people to cultivate every inch of cultivable land,” Minister Amaraweera said.

This sustainable agricultural development programme is very successful. Such a programme should be implemented by the Agriculture Department. All the necessary technology, knowledge, wisdom and facilities are there. But we have not been able to start such a programme yet, he said.

“Next week, I will discuss this with the Agriculture Department. By implementing such gardening programmes, we can face the food crisis,” the Minister said.

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