President Prioritizes Resolution of Farmers’ Issues Amidst Challenges

  • Massive Agricultural Modernization Program Set to Roll Out Soon.
  • “Smart Agriculture” to Attract Youth for Farming.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe underscored the pressing need to address the challenges facing the agricultural sector, affirming a commitment to prioritize the concerns of farmers in the nation’s rebuilding efforts. Emphasizing the imperative of fostering a competitive agricultural industry geared towards crop exportation, the President announced plans for the imminent launch of the country’s most extensive agricultural modernization initiative.

President Wickremesinghe shared these sentiments during his participation at a paddy harvesting event in Galamatiyawa village within the Thambalagamuwa Divisional Secretariat, following an invitation from Trincomalee District Member of Parliament Mr. Kapila Athukorala.

Highlighting the significance of agriculture in the region, where approximately 9,000 acres of paddy cultivation have been undertaken, with 672 acres dedicated solely to Galamatiyawa village during the Maha season.

In a display of unity, residents, irrespective of political affiliation, ethnicity or creed, convened to express their grievances to President Ranil Wickremesinghe. Addressing their concerns, the President promptly directed relevant officials to investigate and provide solutions.

Foremost among the issues raised were the urgent need for a canal to ensure adequate water supply for crop cultivation and the installation of an electric fence to safeguard farmlands from elephant intrusions. In response, President Wickremesinghe disclosed plans for a comprehensive feasibility study to construct a canal, facilitating water distribution across nine tanks from Vendrasan to Puliyuthukulam. Additionally, he instructed officials to install street lights along area 94 to Palam Patar until the electric fence’s construction commences.

Furthermore, the President outlined initiatives to grant freehold deeds to farming families, allocate land to young agricultural entrepreneurs under the Agricultural Modernization Project, and secure ample grazing land for dairy farmers. He urged officials to address these demands promptly and positively.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe further said:

“We have initiated a special program in collaboration with India to develop Trincomalee. In addition to the Trincomalee oil tank complex, there are plans to establish a fuel supply from India via pipeline. Alongside tourism, efforts are underway to create an investment zone to expand employment opportunities. The aim is to elevate the Trincomalee port as a major port in the east and facilitate the exchange of products with South India, thereby contributing to the overall development of the Trincomalee district.

Furthermore, we are focused on developing the agriculture industry, animal husbandry, and fishing industry in the Trincomalee district. Today, we are here to gain insights into developing the agriculture industry in the area and to address the challenges faced by farmers. I have instructed the governor and your member of parliament to provide related reports. These development initiatives are expected to commence by 2025.

It is imperative to enhance the agriculture industry by creating highly efficient agricultural practices. Farmers should be empowered to restore and utilize small tanks, and attention should be directed towards enhancing crop yields. To achieve this, both the government and private sectors will establish agricultural modernization centers and agricultural service centers.

As part of an experimental phase, 25 centers have been selected, one agricultural service center from each district. We are receiving support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for this initiative, while India has provided technical assistance.

Modern-day youth are inclined towards ‘Smart Agriculture’, necessitating the adoption of new technologies. We aspire to restore the country’s past glory of exporting crops. Unfortunately, post-independence, adequate attention was not given to exports. Hence, we are launching the largest agricultural modernization program soon, with plans in progress over the coming months. Furthermore, we aim to prioritize inland fisheries and tourism in the region.

Under the ‘Urumaya’ program, we are granting freehold deeds for land. This program operates in three parts. This year, freehold land deeds will be allocated initially to licensees such as Swarna Bhumi and Jayabhoomi, who have completed survey work and have no disputes. Concurrently, surveying work has commenced on lands earmarked for surveying, and efforts are underway to resolve land-related disputes. Instructions have been issued to provide a minimum of 500-1000 deeds per day from each divisional secretariat.”

The event witnessed the presence of several distinguished figures, including Ven. Akkaragama Wimalajothi Thera, Governor of the Eastern Province Senthil Thondaman, Chief Secretary of the Eastern Province R. M. P. S. Rathnayake, Trincomalee District Secretary Chaminda Hettiarachchi, and Thambalagamuwa Divisional Secretary J. Sripathi.

Additionally, officials from Eastern Province Line Institutions, representatives of farmers’ organizations and a group of residents including farmers from the area also participated in the event.