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Sri Lanka should modernize agricultural sector to boost Forex

by malinga
February 21, 2024 1:07 am 0 comment

Sri Lanka should look at modernizing the agricultural sector as it could become a very high FOREX earner and also help towards food security, said Minister of Agriculture and and Plantation Industries Mahinda Amaraweera who was appointed as the Chairman of the 37th Asia-Pacific Conference of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization for the next two years yesterday in Colombo.

He said that while the local private sector has spearheaded investing in agriculture the SME’s too should move more towards engaging in agriculture.

“We need to change the attitudes of the people in the agriculture sector. I am a firm believer of Science and Technology based decision making. We can make this country back to normal and to go beyond that. We need to modernize agriculture. New innovations should come in. As the Minister of Agriculture, I have made every effort to introduce modern methods, and many have implemented such methods in their farms.’”

He recalled Sri Lanka’s economy, Agro sector and the food security suffered a major setback during the C-19 pandemic and the events that followed. “Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector also suffered due to restrictions of importing fertilizer and pesticides. We were unable to produce the total quantity of organic fertilizer requirement of the country.”

“As a result, nutrient requirement for the crops was insufficient, yields were drastically reduced. Paddy production dropped by over 40% and we had to import large quantities of rice. Maize production dropped by around 60 -70%, which impacted badly on the poultry industry. Therefore, the proteinconsumption dropped drastically.”

Even after the restrictions were lifted, the fertilizer prices in the global market were very high and unaffordable. “As the country was in a deep foreign exchange crisis, imports were extremely difficult.” He recalled that during this time FAO and some countries helped Sri Lanka by giving fertilizer. Meanwhile it was also disclosed that the Asian region is yet to tap even half of the potential of the ocean resources and said that the private sector has to play a larger role in the segment.

The event was totally shut down for the local media by the organizers and the few who went there were cold shouldered.

Shirajiv Sirimane

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