“Cast traditional party politics aside” Join hands to solve people’s food issues – President

President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that all should join together to solve the people’s food issues, casting traditional party politics aside.

The President was addressing public officers at an awareness program on the multi-sector mechanism to empower rural economic revitalisation centres to ensure food security and nutrition at the Hardy Advanced Technological Institute Auditorium, Ampara yesterday.

The President said that no one would starve despite the fact that the country is going through a very difficult time and stressed the importance of successfully implementing the national food production program to prepare for a possible global food crisis next year. The President said that the agriculture modernisation program would be implemented from next year concurrent to the food security program.

The implementation of the multi-sector mechanism to empower rural economic revitalisation centres to ensure food security and nutrition in transforming the Ampara district into a prosperous one was also discussed at length. The Ampara district contributes 22 percent to the national paddy harvest and discussions were also focused on making paddy cultivation in the Yala and Maha seasons a success.

The President paid special attention to the issues faced by public officials during field work. He was made aware of issues related to the agriculture and fisheries industry in the Ampara district and he directed the officials to address those issues. He also instructed that a committee be appointed to study those issues and report to him.

Following the discussion, the President visited the Hardy ATI farm and planted a sapling to mark the occasion. President Wickremesinghe said, “ I am here to review the implementation of the Food Security Program in the Ampara district. We also identified the shortcomings in the implementation of the program at rural level. The problem of organic fertiliser was raised. The distribution of organic fertiliser was made by the Ministry last year but this year we have left it to the companies and those companies would provide the fertiliser. One problem with regard to fertiliser is that there are bills of Rs 8 billion due to companies from last year, which we have commenced settling. We have paid about Rs. 4 billion of it. Second, discussions would be held with the Civil Security Department and the officials for this endeavour. We did not mention one group in this program. That’s the security forces that make a considerable contribution to production. Therefore, we should also involve the security forces in this program. This is the first time that such a program is being implemented in Sri Lanka. Although food could not be brought in during the Second World War, the economy did not collapse. Now the economy has collapsed. This year the economy has recovered somewhat, in comparison to last year. But still there are issues. If we print money, the inflation rate would rise. There are limitations when dealing with the available money and we should all come together to find solutions to these problems, he added.

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