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Doubling Rice Yield Achievable within Next Six harvest Seasons

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  • Agriculture Industry Reaping Benefits of New Technology Introduction.
  • Youth Agri Entrepreneurship Project Boosting Opportunities in Agriculture.
  • Railway Service Utilized to Minimize Crop Damage During Transport – Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Plantation Janaka Dharmakeerthi.
  • Introduction of Fertilizer and Agrochemicals Aimed at Boosting Maize Production- Director General of the Department of Agriculture.
  • Program Underway to Transform Farms Owners into Profitable Enterprises- Director General of the Department of Animal Production and Health.
  • New Fertilizer Introduced to the Market, Promising Agricultural Boost- Commissioner (Services) of the Department of Agrarian Development.
  • Agriculture Policy Submitted to Finance Ministry for Approval- Additional Secretary (Agri Technology).

The Agriculture and Plantation Ministry Secretary shared these updates during a press briefing titled “Two Years of Progress and Advancement” held at the Presidential Media Center (PMC) today (01). He also noted that the agriculture industry is already reaping the benefits of new technology implementations.

He further elaborated:

The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for going beyond traditional farming methods to meet the increasing demand for food, a task that is currently being managed successfully. We have implemented the necessary measures to meet President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s goal of doubling the rice harvest within the next six growing seasons. To achieve this, we have introduced a technical package as part of the agricultural modernization program. Additionally, we have arranged for the utilization of all paddy fields, including fallow fields, for rice cultivation, while using the remaining cultivated land for other crops.

It is worth noting that we have already achieved successful results in paddy cultivation, with an anticipated harvest of 800,000 metric tons of rice needed for the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture cannot directly intervene in paddy prices. However, the government aims for fair price maintenance within an open economy. While occasional price hikes may occur without government intervention, persistent increases may prompt action. Currently, only two types of rice are kept in stock, but future plans include maintaining safe stocks of all rice types for market release. In the dry zone, fallow fields are being allocated to other crops based on recommendations from the Department of Agriculture, which is a positive step for food production.

To support agricultural modernization and address food needs beyond traditional cultivation, Rs.2500 million has been allocated in the budget. Interest-free loans are being provided for various agricultural activities in 26 Divisional Secretariat Divisions, and the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurship Project is being implemented. This initiative has increased youth entrepreneurship opportunities in agriculture, plantation industries, and animal and fishery industries. The introduction of new technology has successfully attracted young people to these sectors.

Currently, special programs are being implemented to target international markets in the agricultural industry, extending beyond local boundaries. There is a growing trend in exporting fruit crops such as strawberries, mangoes, and pineapples. Additionally, a cold storage facility is being established in Dambulla to address yield fluctuations and crop losses. Although farmers are informed about suitable crops, they often produce according to the domestic needs of the country. The management of economic centers under our ministry has successfully reduced crop damage by about 50%. With the support of farmers, we are working on a systematic method to release crops to the market. We are also in discussions with the Ministry of Transport to use the railway service to reduce post-harvest damage, particularly during transportation. Efforts are being made to deploy trains from Beliatta to other provinces to facilitate this process.

Dr. Kamani Ranatunga, Director General of the Department of Agriculture:

A technology package has been introduced to farmers under the Agriculture Modernization Program to boost the production of fruits and vegetables needed for consumption in Sri Lanka. Pilot projects are being launched on 60,000 hectares of selected land to increase paddy yield in the upcoming Maha season. The parachute method will also be introduced for paddy cultivation, aiming to achieve a yield of 7 metric tons per hectare. Efforts are underway to introduce proper fertilizers and agrochemical practices to increase the production of maize, which has been declining. In vegetable cultivation, plans are being made

to create storage facilities to manage excess production and prevent seasonal shortages. This includes providing cold storage facilities. The government’s goal is to transform farmers into entrepreneurs through these agricultural programs.

Dr. Hemali Kothalawala, Director General of the Department of Animal Production and Health:

Through 337 veterinary offices and 16 veterinary research institutes, significant strides have been made in advancing the livestock sector in this country. Under the Agricultural Modernization Program, the development of chicken and dairy farms has been a primary focus. A livestock pilot project is currently being conducted on 150 farms across six selected provinces to achieve self-sufficiency in milk production. Additionally, we have taken steps to develop grasslands and train workers. Trained workers have received NVQ 3-4 vocational training to enhance production efficiency, enabling them to pursue job opportunities abroad if needed. Our goal is to increase the current milk production, which covers 40% of Sri Lanka’s consumption, to 60% by 2028. By turning animal farm owners into entrepreneurs, we aim to make a direct contribution to the country’s economy.

Sumith Chandana, Commissioner (Services) of the Department of Agrarian Development:

After resolving the fertilizer crisis two years ago, the Department of Agrarian Development has ensured the availability of necessary fertilizers to meet the country’s needs. Arrangements have been made to supply farmers with sufficient chemical fertilizers, including urea, and fertilizers are available in the market for purchase from private dealers if needed. Over the past two years, the provision of financial subsidies and free fertilizers has led to significant crop growth. Farmers received Rs.11 billion in subsidies for the last season and Rs.5.6 billion for the current season. Modern technology has been leveraged to support farmers, with the “GeoGoviya” application collecting comprehensive data on farmers to address their needs and provide prompt services. So far, the Department of Agrarian Development has constructed 19 greenhouses. The government has allocated Rs.1499 million for 1120 projects, including tank renovations and storage facilities, to enhance agricultural infrastructure over the past year. Additionally, the “Sustainable Garden” program aims to create 1 million gardens, with land already identified for this initiative. Each garden will focus on growing a single crop, providing opportunities for commercial income.

Shiromani Edirimanne, Additional Secretary (Agri Technology) to the Ministry of Agriculture:

We have submitted our drafted agriculture policy for approval to the Ministry of Finance. This policy aims to align agricultural production programs over the next decade under 10 key elements. Additionally, efforts are underway to merge data systems of various line agencies

into a unified system, slated for completion by the end of this year. This integration is expected to enhance efficiency and facilitate better decision-making processes. Furthermore, updates are in progress for several laws, including the Seed Act, Animal Act, and Plant Protection Act.
A group of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture participated in the event.

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