We will protect farmers the same way we protected the armed forces – President

Saturday, 25 June 2011 01:10 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Government will take every action to protect the farmers of this country in a manner similar to the way in which we protect our armed forces in the humanitarian operation, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the National Farmers’ Convention (Maha Govi Samuluwa), organised to mark the launch of the fertiliser subsidy for all agricultural and cash crops, at Temple Trees on Thursday.

The Government will purchase paddy from farmers in any circumstances, the President added.

 Certain forces are trying to obstruct the successful forward march of the country by making baseless allegations, he said.

The President pointed out that human rights of all are safeguarded in Sri Lanka today. “As a result of the peaceful atmosphere in the country, fear of death and bloodletting are no more in the country. If the government has established a peaceful situation and people are well looked after by the government, it indicates that human rights are also safeguarded,” the President noted.

“After eradicating the brutal and deadly terrorism, the government has placed the country on a rapid development track.”

“As part of the agricultural development programme, the government allocates Rs. 52,500 million annually for the fertiliser subsidy, the President Rajapaksa claimed.

In accordance with the Mahinda Chinthana Idiri Dekma programme, a 50 Kg bag of fertiliser was offered to paddy cultivators for Rs. 350. When the programme commenced, some people, especially those in the opposition, were doubtful and asked whether the President had the Aladdin’s lamp to perform this miracle, said the President.

“With the launch of this new fertiliser subsidy programme any cultivator can buy any amount of fertiliser from the open market at a subsidised price. Farmers or cultivators need not fill forms any more to get fertiliser”, the President said. Earlier Sri Lanka used to import food items spending over 40 percent of the GDP without considering that those crops could be easily cultivated in the country. No one thought of food self sufficiency, he stressed.

“As a people-friendly government, many measures have been taken to increase food production. Under this, all cultivation including agricultural crops and cash crops will receive the fertiliser subsidy. The project introduced to establish one million domestic economic units is a part of it”, President Rajapaksa said.

The President pointed out that the fertiliser subsidy is not an allocation, but an investment for the future. Therefore, the government has invested Rs. 123 billion on the fertiliser subsidy during the last six years. Due to the global economic crisis, the price of fertiliser was over Rs. 7,000 per bag. Notwithstanding this increase the government as a people-friendly one has clearly understood the value of agriculture, and offered the fertiliser subsidy as usual.

“As the government protected the brave soldiers who liberated the country from LTTE, terrorism, the people who provide rice to the country will be protected and looked after,” the President added.

President Rajapaksa further said that historians have pointed out that paddy has been cultivated in the country for the last 30,000 years. But some narrow minded rulers wanted to discourage agriculture including paddy cultivation. These parties ruined the Paddy Marketing Board, the Co-operatives and many other community based government establishments.

The President stressed that the contribution of everyone was needed for the development of the country.