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Sunday, 24 April 2011

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Krushiseva Piyasa - a boon for farmers



Agrolink Consultant
Jayasiri Premaratna

People have shown a great deal of interest to cultivate fruits, vegetables and food crops. The Agricultural and Agrarian Services authorities should provide the necessary input to ensure enhanced production said Agrolink Consultant and Seed Specialist Jayasiri Premaratna.

He holds a post Graduate Degree in Agronomy from the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom and functioned as a management consultant to the Ambewela and Pattipola Livestock Company Sunday Observer interviewed him on the "Krushiseva Piyasa" - "Agriculture Services Centre" project launched by the Agriculture Development Ministry.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: The 36th Agriculture Services Centre "Krushiseva Piyasa" was launched at Katanawatta Road, Dankotuwa under your charge last month. What are the objectives of this project.

A: "Krushiseva Piyasa" is a novel concept to assist people who maybe fulltime farmers or engaged in cultivation on a part time basis. The centres are open from the early hours till late night. Most of them who visited "Krushiseva Piyasa" at Dankotuwa last month were on their way home after office. People always need assistance, advice, and service to ensure success in Agricultural ventures.


Seed farm in Nikaweratiya. Principal grower Luxman Wijewardena and Chandana Premaratne

Q: There are over 550 Agrarian Services Centres in the Island today. How will you justify the need for new institutions to supplement the work of the Agrarian Services Centres.

A: Agrarian Services Centres launched by the former Agriculture Minister, Hector Kobbekaduwa during the 1970s was a great success in the context of promoting agriculture. Services provided by them such as technical advice fertilizer, bank loans are totally inadequate in a developing economy. Now the situation has changed and it has become more complicated. The existing set up such as holding a 'people's day' once a week and restricted office hours from 8 am to 4.30 pm in government institutions cannot meet the increasing public demand in a fast developing economy specially in the field of agriculture.

Q: How do you differentiate the new "Krushiseva Piyasa" from Agrarian Services Centres?

A: Advisory Services, seeds, fertilizer, plants can be obtained from "Krushiseva Piyasa". Unlike other government institutions, it operates from the early hours of the day till late evening similar to private venture. The head of the "Krushiseva Piyasa" will be an Agriculture Diploma holder or a graduate with professional capacity to run an agriculture centre.

Q: There is an allegation that high quality seeds and plant materials are not available in the market, your comments.

A: "Krushiseva Piyasa" will fill the gap. High quality seed, plant material or any other items could be obtained from "Krushiseva Piyasa". The seeds plant materials are supplied to "Krushiseva Piyasa" from the Agriculture Department's seed and plant farms. We are also getting "Rose and other flower plants from Welimada. Even field visits too to inspect nurseries or cultivations will be handled. "Krushiseva Piyasa" staff could make field visit s to nurseries when necessary.

Q: There was an acute shortage of vegetables and fruits in the country recently. The Dambulla big onion cultivators suffered a severe loss in their harvests due to the use of low quality big onion seeds imported by a private supplier, your comments.

A: In the 1970s, Sri Lanka was self sufficient in paddy, vegetables, or fruits, later some government farms were privatised when they were functioning at a loss due to reasons such as poor management. Under the liberalised economy the import of seed by the private sector witnessed the decline of quality local production which in the end produced negative results. The government has a major role to play in ensuring agriculture development in the country.

Q: The existing system of having different officers to attend to the multiple needs of the cultivators has proved inadequate. Don't you think this should be changed to suit the convenience of cultivators?

A: It is wise to change the present system to facilitate cultivators and farmers. There should be a flexible and viable system to cater to the cultivators' needs. The new "Krushiseva Piyasa" will certainly do away with bottle neck and red tape.

Q: You have considerable experience and knowledge in Agriculture and Livestock Development, you have also studied in the UK`, the Netherlands and Israel and have worked over three decades in the agriculture and livestock sectors in Sri Lanka. Could you explain as to why Sri Lanka imports essential food items such as sugar, milk powder, fruits, when Sri Lanka is endowed with all natural resources to be self-sufficient in food?

A: Due to wrong decisions on the part of some politicians and bureaucrats, Sri Lanka became a dependent country as far as agricultural produce was concerned.

On wrong advice by some donor countries and some foreign agencies, the government gave up important economic centres to the privata sector.

Most of the privatised farms and major industries failed to produce the desired results. The major sugar factories such as Pelawatta, Hingurana and Sevenagala could be cited as good example. India, China or Malaysia did not follow the advice tendered by the West and Western lending organisations blindly. Today they enjoy economic stability and self-sufficiency. sri lanka can reach its targets as some sri Lankan private sector ventures such as the telecommunications sector and the garment sector have done. The Divineguma program launched by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa will prove that this is possible.

Overall the government should ensure the use of all human and natural resources to maximize productivity in the agricultural sector.

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