Northern agricultural revival
It is reported that land under cultivation in the
North has increased by 60 percent in 2010 over the previous
year. Also in the Yala season the Northern province farmers had
cultivated 8,693 acres and during the present Maha season 21,295
All this indicate a boom time for the agricultural sector in
the North which was dealt a deathblow by the war. It is also a
testimony to the industry and drive of the Northern farmer in
getting their act together within a short space of time since
the end to the war in going back to their fields. Agriculture
being the mainstay of the Northern economy for many generations,
it is vital that all measures be taken to revive this sector to
its pristine past. All land destroyed in the war and those
rendered waste due to long years of neglect should be developed
and restored to their former state wherever possible. In the
national economy now poised to benefit from the Northern economy
in large measure a foremost place needs to be accorded to
All incentives and support should be extended to develop and
uplift the agricultural sector in the North to bring it back to
the boom times it enjoyed prior to the war. Steps should be
taken to introduce modern methods of farming and cultivation to
the Northern farmer who no doubt with his customary enterprise
would adapt to the changes. A large number of irrigation tanks
that fed the cultivations of the North were destroyed in the war
and these need repairs and mending while those that survived
needs to be rehabilitated and renovated to enable the farmers
obtain a steady supply of water for their cultivations.
The Government should also ensure that the Jaffna farmer
received reasonable prices for his produce by putting in place a
foolproof mechanism that would circumvent the middleman. With
the supply network still not firmly established the State should
intervene in this task to ensure that the Jaffna farmer who is
just raising his head again is not exploited.
Time was when the South enjoyed a steady inflow of
agriculture products and fruits from the North which were
welcomed with relish for their unique flavours and varieties.
There were also other products especially delicacies derived
from the Palmyra palm that were vary popular in the South.
Hopefully this agriculture boom now experienced in the North
would herald the come back to that era where the bounties of
North were eagerly lapped up in the South. The post war
transformation also has provided the opportunity for the revival
of other sectors and industries that were unique to the North
which while providing a chance to the South to sample their
wares and also lend a big boost to the national economy.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has always reiterated the need to
raise the level of the country's agriculture sector even while
we are rapidly veering towards industrialization. He has
launched several programs to underline the importance of
agriculture. One of these is the decision to acquire all land
that are abandoned and lying in neglect in order to put them
under the plough. Hopefully the new agricultural renaissance
that is being witnessed in the North would prove a catalyst for
the resurgence of the agriculture sector as a whole nationwide
so that we would soon attain self-sufficiency in food.
The Government has decided to ban begging across the board.
Social Services Minister Felix Perera was quoted in a news
report as saying that a new rehabilitation centre would be set
up to house beggars once they were removed and relocated by the
Police. The Government began by putting a stop to begging in
public transport. Beggars have also been evicted periodically in
the past when the city was given a facelift to mark some
international event such as the Non Aligned Conference in 1976,
which also became an election issue at the time.
Begging is not strictly a local phenomenon. Even developed
countries have their fair share of beggars. But in Sri Lanka
begging has turned out to be a big time racket. This was given
credence by a story in the media recently where it was revealed
that a so called beggar was in fact an occupant of a two
storeyed house in a busy suburb. It also exposed how large-scale
beggar rings are being masterminded by mudalalis who train their
charges to adopt various ruses to evoke sympathy of the public
and enhance their collection such as exposing wounds or the
common ruse of bearing an infant in the case of female beggars.
In that context the clamp down on beggars is to be welcomed
though it has to be borne in mind that begging is an off shoot
of poverty and is a social problem that needs to be tackled on a
higher plane and a permanent solutions sought.