Do not reverse chemical fertilizer ban – Farmers

District Farmers’ representatives on behalf of 1.1 million farmers across the country, have urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa not to reverse the steps taken to use organic fertilizer.

The farmers’ representatives highlighted that it was their absolute duty and responsibility to return to the traditional farming methods and provide the people with a non-toxic healthy diet.

They added that citizenry will be grateful to the President for his decision to nourish a healthy next generation for Sri Lanka.

The farmers’ representatives assured President Rajapaksa that all the farmers in the country would support the President in overcoming the challenge of going for an agriculture based on organic fertilizer, as a team, for the benefit of all people in Sri Lanka just like the country once faced the challenge of concluding the war against terrorism.

Farmers’ representatives shared these views at a meeting with the District Farmers Representatives of the Sri Lanka National Farmers’ Organisation held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday morning (01).

This Organisation comprises of 1.1 million farmers, 17,000 farmers organizations and 563 Agrarian Service Centres.

The President briefed the farmers’ representatives on the measures to be taken by the Government for the use of organic fertilizer.

President Rajapaksa pointed out that this was not a sudden decision and this initiative was launched to fulfill a promise made in his “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” policy statement. The previous governments on a number of occasions have tried to convert into organic agriculture. However, the President said that the reasons for their failure would be studied and the new programme will be implemented after rectifying those errors. Some people try to point this out as a reverse journey. However, the President emphasized that the use of organic fertilizers, which is a new trend in the entire world, would take the country on a new path of agrarian economy.

Many who speak out against the programme are referring to prices of fruits and vegetables, which are produced using organic fertilizers. But they don’t pay attention to the farmers suffering from the use of chemical fertilizers.

Cultivation has been largely paralyzed over the past five years. The policy of the present government is to uplift the agricultural sector. The increase in the purchase price of paddy from 30 rupees to 50 Rupees per kilo is a step taken to encourage farmers. Later, farmers were able to sell their paddy at between 65 and 68 Rupees per kilo. The government intervened to control the price of rice to protect consumers.

The President stated that the Government will create an environment where the farmers will be able to receive a sum of Rs. 80,000 million spent annually on the importation of chemical fertilizers, while protecting the future generations from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

The President said that in order to implement the programme continuously and successfully, the required amount of organic fertilizer including organic herbicides and pesticides will be made available to the farmers in the same manner the chemical fertilizers were provided. At the same time, local entrepreneurs and industrialists will be given the opportunity to produce the required organic fertilizer locally. The farmers can also produce the organic fertilizer they need. The Government has made plans to provide the funds required for this purpose.

The President assured that the income earned by the farmers will not be reduced and if it does, the Government would compensate so the farmer will not have to suffer.

Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage handed over the documents pertaining to the “Farmers Insurance Scheme” to the President which was suspended during the previous Government. It will resume from today.

Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage also revealed that the Government is focusing on increasing the ‘farmer’s pension’. Minister Aluthgamage said that immediate steps will be taken to construct 105 new warehouses to store paddy, provide financial assistance to Farmers’ Banks and to update the agricultural database expeditiously.

The President also approved to increase the upper limit for contracts for farmers’ organisations from Rs. 2 million to Rs. 10 million for undertaking projects to rehabilitate tanks and canals.

It was also decided to expand the scope for direct involvement of farmers when selling harvest at economic centres.

State Ministers Shasheendra Rajapaksa, Mohan de Silva and Dr. Seetha Arambepola, Secretary to the President Dr. P. B. Jayasundera and Government Officials including Secretaries to the Ministries were present.

(Daily news)

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