|Thursday, 24 June 2004|
Rs. 140 m Japanese grant for farmers in N/E
The Japanese Government has made a Rs.140 million grant to the UPFA Government to uplift the living conditions of the farmer community of the North-East areas.
The Japanese Ambassador Akio Sudo handed over this grant to Agriculture and Lands Deputy Minister Bimal Ratnayake at a ceremony held at Plant Genetic Resources Centre, Gannoruwa recently.
The Japanese Ambassador said the intention of his Government to provide this loan was to uplift the socio-economic conditions of the rural farmer community, particularly those in the north-east areas.
He said the new UPFA Government and its two agriculture ministers have the ability of developing the country's agriculture sphere.
"We are very keen on Sri Lanka's rural economic development.The Agriculture sector has played a leading role to develop a country like Sri Lanka. In order to develop local agriculture, the Sri Lankan Government has implemented several projects," he said.
Agriculture and Lands Deputy Minister Bimal Ratnayake said the Government will take steps to grant immediate relief measures to the North-East farmer community who were living amidst a war situation during the past 20 years.
He said the Sri Lankan Government extends its gratitude to the Japanese Government for assisting the north-east farmers who have faced severe hardships due to the war situation to conduct their agricultural activities. "If we want to step up development, initiatives should be taken to uplift the agriculture sphere," the Deputy Minister said.
He said the Rs.140 million aid provided by the Japanese Government was different to the other aid provided to the Sri Lankan Government.
"When the Japanese Government provides aid to us to develop the irrigation sector and implement our projects, they never impose their political and economic conditions on us. On many occasions, Japanese aid has been based on our country's needs."
The north-east people have been undergoing hardship for nearly two decades due to the war. Therefore, as a responsible Government, an agricultural program will be implemented to provide direct benefits to the farmers in these areas.
Ratnayake said the country's lands, water and seeds should be protected as national resources. The Government should ensure the country's development while conserving lands.
Plant and genetic resources are the most important resources in our country which has a rich biodiversity. Measures should be taken to produce new seed varieties by utilising these resources.
"At present, we are not producing sufficient seed varieties to cater to the country's needs. Nearly 30,000 seed varieties should be tested by our seed laboratories per year. However, only 6000 seed varieties are tested annually.
In addition, seed conservation and distribution are not conducted properly. Agriculture is connected to our country's future. Therefore, safeguarding agriculture is our national responsibility," he added.
Produced by Lake House