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“We must strengthen the agro economy”: Minister Amunugama

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 27 September 2017 00:00

Minister of Special Assignments Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Vice President of the SLFP and SLFP Chief Organiser, Galagedara electorate, addressing a meeting of farmer representatives held at his political office at Galagedara said that it is necessary to strengthen domestic agriculture which is like the backbone of the Sri Lankan economy and that such action will make it possible to raise the standard of living of the people of Sri Lanka. Following are excerpts of his address:

Agriculture is still the backbone of the economy of the country. Today the contribution of agriculture to the GDP has come down to about 8%. However in 1990 it was about 26%. Due to the services sector of the economy displacing traditional agriculture in the economy, considerable changes have occurred in the country. However we should not forget that still about 70% of the rural and estate populations still depend on agriculture. We as a government are directing the economy according to a plan to raise their standard of living.

We must realise that the economy of a country will not be strengthened by shouting on platforms, by going on strike and by conducting protests. Those things will only harm the country. Out attempt is to provide the facilities required by the farmer and the small time businessman in the village and develop the economy of the country.

We can say that our agriculture consists of the growing of paddy, vegetables and fruits. Export agriculture including spices, ornamental plants, flowers, etc. Statistics show that these crops are spread over about I million hectares of land. Of this about 70% is accounted for by paddy. It is necessary to increase this crop acreage and also to increase agricultural exports. Thereby the income of the country will increase. 

It is also the effort of the Government to enhance the income of the people engaged in these fields and thereby take them to a higher standard of living. We must remember that these are the people who earn the country’s income, who feed the country and who are our lifeline. It is the prime effort of our government and our party to uplift these people’s lives and to regenerate the country’s agro economy.  

Due to the production of field crops i.e. big onions, red onions, potatoes, chillies,  gingelly, ground nuts etc being insufficient we are compelled to import them. Especially in the case of the main imported crops, potatoes, onions, maize and chillies the Government had to spend in 2015 alone $ 161 million to import them.

If these crops are grown in sufficient quantity in the country we can save billions of dollars annually, the standard of living of the rural people can be enhanced only by increasing local production. Therefore the aim of the Government and the President is to increase local production, raise national income and develop the country. To develop the country the economy must be directed according to a plan. The government is dedicated to do that. 

No country can go forward through agitations, protests and strikes. For a country to go forward the people must work. Production must be increased. It is necessary to say that the service rendered to the country by farmers like you is immeasurable in comparison to those who conduct agitations to destabilise the county. What you are doing is increasing the production and increasing the income of the country. A country will progress only through such action. 

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