Developing Northern agriculture
That normality should be restored in the liberated
North without undue delay goes without saying. A speedy return
to normal activity would not only allow the people of the North
to resume their day to day affairs all that much quicker but
would also leave no room for a vacuum to be created that would
give rise to unrest.
The return to normality no doubt would mean not only the
rebuilding of broken lives of the Northern population who had
lived under the jackboot of terrorism for over three decades. It
would mean returning them to their familiar environments and
livelihoods that had been shattered.
Anyone even with a nodding acquaintance of the Northern way
of life would readily identify agriculture as offering the
highest potential that alas had been dormant all these years in
the North for obvious reasons. It is therefore now left to the
Government to give rein to this potential through the
resourcefulness of the Jaffna farmer in its Northern Reawakening
One cannot help but nostalgically recall the days gone by
when the Jaffna farmer was spoken of with a high degree of
respect and regard for his resourcefulness and industrious
nature. That was a time when the people of the South were able
to enjoy the agricultural bounties that came unhindered from the
North. The old timer would still recall the harvests of
vegetables that came to the South in plenty - the giant murungas
the most famous among these.
Alas, three decades of war had laid waste to all the vast
agricultural tracts in the North while the Jaffna farmer was
unable to go out to tend his fields due to the guns and bombs.
As a result, what we have today are a vast terrain of
agricultural land that have been reduced to burnt out rubble. A
massive effort will therefore be needed to get these lands back
into proper shape and for the harvests of the North to once
again reach the four corners of the country.
It is here that the assistance offered by internationally
renowned agriculture expert Prof. M. S. Swaminathan to revamp
agricultural activity in the North and East has come as a god
send. Known as the “ ‘Father of the Indian Green Revolution’
Prof. Swaminathan has offered to resurrect agriculture in the
North with the use of new technology used in several developing
No doubt the plan would take some time to reach fruition with
the populace still to be resettled. Besides, the farmers have
lost all their lands and these need to be revested in their true
owners as with all other property.
The raging war had driven farmers from their habitats with
lands appropriated by the terrorists. The Government should
therefore expedite the process of giving back the farmers all
their lost land. No doubt once back in their vocation the Jaffna
farmer would come back to his own.
In this respect, one recalls the golden era of the Jaffna
farmer under Governments which offered him the best price for
his produce. No wonder Presidential candidate Hector Kobbekaduwa
was given a rousing welcome by the farmers in Jaffna who placed
garlands on him made of chillies and onions during his campaign
in the North. Needless to say the SLFP won a majority of
electorates in the North at that poll.
Ideally, one would yearn for a recreation of that atmosphere
once again between the North and South making the Jaffna farmer
a catalyst in this transformation.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa should therefore give top
priority towards the revival of the agricultural sector in the
North without delay so that the Jaffna farmer can once again
display his industry and resourcefulness to help renew these
past bonds and also serve the national economy as a whole.
Now with the North East free of terrorism, we should lose no
time in amalgamating all sectors in those parts that kept the
national economy ticking.The fishery sector in the North is
another area with vast potential.
Now with the gradual lifting of fishing restrictions people
in the South could once again savour the marine delicacies
Jaffna was so famous for at one time.
With the unrestricted fish supply arriving in the South this
would also reduce the high fish prices while providing cheap
sources of protein to the ordinary masses. There is no doubt
going to limitless benefits all around now with the opening of
the North to the rest of the country.
It is left to Government now to reap the real fruits of the
war victories by tapping the enormous potential of the North.
This ,while uniting the country after decades of separation will
also add to a lost link to the national economy making it thrive
to it’s full potential.