'Success in Waga Sangrama could be achieved only through proper
by Ananda Kannangara
The Sunday Observer last week sought the views of politicians as well
as the public about the recently launched Waga Sangrama program by the
Agricultural Ministry. Here the excerpts of the interview.
Minister Maithripala Sirisena said the Government was committed to
implement the Waga Sangrama program on the directive of the President
mainly to develop the country's agricultural sector and also to
encourage the farmer community.
"Our country has a large number of uncultivated land in almost all
Divisional Secretariat areas and they are unattended; no one is focusing
any attention to cultivate them,".
He said the country is blessed with natural climatic conditions which
help to develop the agricultural sector in a big way, but unfortunately
no one is taking any step to develop these lands.
"Our objective is to get a survey of all uncultivated lands and
encourage farmers and agricultural organisations to help the Waga
Sangrama program," he said.
Galle District UNP MP Vajira Abeyawardana called upon the Government
to cut down the taxes of all agricultural equipment for the benefit of
the farmer community before the Waga Sangrama is launched.
"The Government must also start new irrigation projects in rural rice
producing areas, before commencing this type of agricultural program,".
He said the price of fertiliser had gone up and blamed the Government
for its inability to provide fertiliser at Rs. 350, as promised during
the last election period.
"Even during the time of former President J.R Jayewardene, a Waga
Sangramaya program was initiated and 9200 new irrigation canals were
constructed in the Victoria, Kotmale and Mahaweli zones and at least one
million acres of paddy land were cultivated.
"We also reduce taxes on all agricultural equipment and encourage
farmers to produce compost fertiliser,".
"Even today the country is self sufficient in rice to a certain
extent due these development plans,".
Abeyawardana, therefore asked the Government to construct more
irrigation canals, cut down taxes on agricultural equipment, provide
fertiliser at an affordable price and encourage people to manufacture
compost fertiliser before this program is implemented.
JVP, Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa said "Although the Waga
Sangrama program is good to develop agriculture, but the Government has
not yet appointed responsible officials to monitor the program,".
"We need better administrators to monitor any development program;
otherwise better results cannot be expected,".
Weerawansa also blamed the Government for not taking any action to
stop selling agricultural lands by auctioneers and also to halt
polluting the environment by filling useful paddylands for commercial
A Director in the mercantile firm, Wimaladasa Amarasinghe thanked the
Government for initiating this agricultural program even at this
juncture and requested the Agricultural Ministry to take immediate steps
to bring down the prices of all agricultural equipment and fertiliser.
"Unless the Government brings down the prices of agricultural
equipment, this type of program will not be successful," he said.
Professor in Agriculture, Indrajith Mahagamage of Kandy urged the
Government to organise `Farmer Associations' in all districts and
recruit young and old people.
"These people should be given a monthly salary, so that, they can
help the Government's Waga Sangrama program.
The Secretary of a Farmer organisation of Polonnaruwa, Ranasinghalage
Piyasiri said there were many uncultivated lands in the district and no
official has so far taken any action to cultivate them.
He said many land owners have financial difficulties, and as a result
they are unable to cultivate the lands. Piyasena Mudalige of
Nikaweratiya said farmers in his area were very poor and wanted the
Government to grant bank loans for them without any security. An
executive, M.N. Kuthubdeen said some farmers gave up cultivating land
due to the high cost of fertiliser and wanted the Government to reduce
the price of all varieties of fertilisre so that they would once again
resort to their age old profession.
Bimal Thilakaratna of Borelasgamauwa, made a proposal to utilise the
service of prisoners to clear forests and cultivate land.
"There are lots of uncultivated land in the rural sector and people
do not even visit these areas, he said.