Fertiliser subsidy for all crops, a big boost:
More lands under the plough in N-E
"Several programs were being implemented
islandwide to increase agricultural productivity", said Agriculture
Ministry Secretary K.E. Karunatileka in an interview with the Sunday
"Although the country's rice production is
little over the actual need of the country, the import of other
subsidiary food items such as green gram, cowpea, maize, undu , kurakkan
and fruits cost billions of rupees annually. The government had since
decided to produce them locally," he said.
Q: Although a large extent of lands have been cultivated in
the North and the East recently still the country spends billions of
foreign exchange to import subsidiary food items. Are there plans to
arrest this situation?
A: As you said more than 12,000 ha of virgin land in the
Eastern and Northern provinces have been re cultivated from 2009.
We had a good harvest of paddy and other crops. The country does not
import rice at present and we have a annual surplus of rice production.
However, a small quantity of high quality rice such as Basmathi were
being imported for tourist hotels. A program to cultivate high quality
rice has also been launched to remedy this situation. The largest
acreage of land in the country has been used for paddy cultivation.
Therefore, there is no other solution to improve the paddy production
than increasing its productivity per acre.
Q: What were the steps taken by the government to increase the
productivity of paddy and other subsidiary food crops?
Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena
Statement of profits -
green gram cultivation
Third Agricultural Season - 2011
Cultivated land 7,599 ha
Seeds - cost Rs.24.2million
Other expenses Rs.50 million
Total production 6,137 mt
Total income Rs. 613.7million
Profit Rs. 539.5million
A: The paddy fertiliser subsidy is an investment which has
increased the harvest.
Last year the government extended the fertiliser subsidy to all other
crops including fruits, vegetables, coconut and minor export crops. This
helped improve the harvest while the cultivators received a better
Q: There is an allegation that both traders and the farmers
had misused the fertiliser subsidy.
A: Yes it has happened in many parts of the country. The
Agriculture Ministry has an advanced field networks to work closely with
The Ministry has launched another program to ensure the optimum use
Fully equipped agriculture laboratories have been set up in every
district and Gannoruwa, Mahailluppalema, Kilinochchi, Paranthan and
Makandura which will recommend to farmers the particular fertiliser and
the crop to suit the geographical conditions of the area.
Q: What is the progress of the Pannala Compost Fertiliser
A: As I explained, it is not sufficient to apply only urea TST
fertiliser and manganese are also needed to improve the soil. Since the
latest research have revealed that compost fertiliser application is
better than chemical fertiliser. The compost fertiliser development
project at Pannala is geared to popularise compost fertiliser.
Q: A third agricultural season between Yala and Maha was
introduced last year to increase the productivity in the agriculture
sector. How far has it progressed?
A: There is a two and a half month gap between the traditional
Yala and Maha agricultural seasons.
The intervening period could be used successfully to cultivate
essential food items especially pulses such as green gram, cowpea,
maize and undu. The experiment which was conducted in Hambantota,
Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Ratnapura and the Mahaveli areas was
successful.Around 7,599 ha were cultivated during the third agricultural
season. 6,137 mt of green gram were produced.
Government provided assistance including free fertiliser and seeds
worth of Rs. 6.2 million to farmers to launch the third season of
cultivation of pulses.
The green gram produced during the third season was valued at Rs.
613.7 million. This program will be continued providing all the
assistance to the cultivators.
Q: High quality seeds and planting materials are important for
a productive cultivation. What is your ministry program to encourage
A: Seed villages program launched by the Ministry is a
success. Villages in Dambulla and Matale had been selected to make seeds
and planting materials - for potatoes, big union and vegetables.
Training and assistance were also provided to these villagers by the
Ministry. The Government gives high priority to provide high quality
seeds and planting materials to cultivators. All seed farms coming under
the Ministry of Agriculture had been given adequate funds to improve and
expand its activities.