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Mullaitivu: Agriculture takes pride of place

Mullaitivu is now a bustling city with no more traces of a battle.Pudukuduyirippu, Puthumathalan, Mullivaikkal are a hive of activity with normalcy being restored in the area. Five years after the end of the three-decade battle against terrorism, the Mullaitivu district is full of activities with business thriving.

Maj. Gen Jagath Dias takes part in religious rites
Soliers clearing lands for cultivation
Preparing the field for ploughing
Clearing a causeway to drain rain water

Being isolated from the main stream development which the rest of the country was privileged to enjoy, the Mullaitivu district needed more attention. Today one could see the results of development in the area. Under LTTE terrorism, the district remained a mine-infested region, not accessible to the Government's development programs. People had to flee their homes often.

New roads with carpeted tarmac, fine drainage and sewerage systems with street lights and sign boards to byroads was a promising sight to realise that proper infrastructure is being provided to these areas after a long period..

Especially the lagoon based areas like Vadduvakal and Vellamullivaikkal where thousands of civilians broke loose the terrorist boundaries and started swimming towards the cleared areas as well as Puthumathalan and Pudukuduyirippu areas are now peaceful villages with facilities to live a peaceful life.

Agriculture

Though not much known, Mullaitivu had been flourishing in agriculture during the good old days. The dairy and agriculture farmers did not have the opportunity to engage in economic development activities due to lack of opportunities.

More than 70 percent of the people in the district are engaged in agriculture, said the District Secretary N. Vedanayagam. According to him almost all in the agriculture sector are now fully engaged in their cultivation businesses. Nearly 20,000 families are engaged in farming, according to the District Secretary.

Though fully resettled farmers still find it difficult to find labour and resources for cultivation. Paddy fields that gave a rich harvest in the past are abandoned for a long time. People had no means to resume cultivation.

Being equally important as an agriculture area, many parts of the district depend on rain water for cultivation. Irrigation schemes are there, but some need further improvement to provide water for more paddy fields. The main irrigation tanks are in Muthiyankattu, Vavunikulam, Thannimurippu and Vishvamadu.

In addition there are minor tanks in the area. The initial resettlement in the Mullaitivu district was commenced in the two AGA Divisions in October 2009 with the gradual de-mining and presently there are no internally displaced camps in the district with the closure of the Menik Farm in September 2012, according to the District Secretariat office.

Equality

The Mullaitivu town has been transformed into a bustling town similar to a developed town in the south. The rural villages needed similar development. Houses, schools and better healthcare facilities with fully-fledged hospitals and medical centres brought back life to these once devastated lands. Well established government offices such as the district secretariat and the police station gives not only the impression that the regular state service is running as normal as in the South but the confidence of the newly resettled civilians being looked after in a promising manner.

The support rendered to the agriculture sector is similar. Yet finding the labour force has been a major problem for the farmers as all of them are at the reviving state of their livelihood.

Despite many problems the Mullaitivu distri recorded a paddy production of 17,769 metric tons last year while other food crops harvest 7692 metric tons, vegetables 2123 metric tons and fruits 565 metric tons.

In this situation the Sri Lanka Army extended their help on the request of the Divisional Secretariat office. Troops deployed under the Security Forces Headquarters were given the responsibility of developing these abandoned lands to arable lands.

"People want peace, good education for their kith and kin and livelihood

development," said Major General Jagath Dias, Security Forces Commander of Mullaitivu.

He said his task is to ensure a peaceful environment in the area.

The established system is that the District Secretary of Mullaitivu coordinates development work in the district. However, when he request help the military extends its fullest support. The military always play a supportive role . The military has a good coordination with the government administration.

Mullaitivu has the potential to become an agriculture- based economic centre, said Major General Dias .

During an interview with the Sunday Observer, Maj. Gen. Dias said it is high time the country started using this resourceful land for the betterment of the country and its people.

The Army have cleared land for griculture. Recently 93 acres in Vaveddikulam area belonging to 24 farmers and 79 plots of paddy land of 36 farmers were cleared and handed over to the owners. Around 210 acres of paddy land in Pirammadu area were handed over to 70 farmer families.

Currently more arable lands are being cleared with the help of the y soldiers. Paddy fields in Otiyamali area extending to 40 acres have been prepared for cultivation with the help of the Army.

" The Army will assist the people who were rescued by our own Forces.

As soldiers, we know we are working with sensitive issues, yet we will continue to be engaged in nation building as our priority is to help our people. It is our bounden duty", Maj. Gen Dias said. "When something happens, people expect the Army to get involved as they have a good understanding and trust with the soldiers. They feel safe when the Army is around. They know that at any emergency, officers and soldiers are there to help them," he said.

A significant contribution by the Army is seen in the present development

projects of the Mullaitivu district, especially on instances where the Government Administration seeks their help.

Their efforts are not only to assist the Government national development plan, but also to work on their personal level to meet the targets of the national development program and upgrade the lives of resettling communities.

 

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