By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): The farmers of Norochcholai and Kalpitiya have submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Agriculture to designate the area as an agricultural zone.
“Vegetables and fruits needed by our country are grown in large numbers in Norochcholai and Kalpitiya. Low country vegetables as well as up country vegetables, and potatoes are also cultivated in these areas,” the agriculture ministry said in a statement.
Farmers in the area claim they do not get the concessions given by the government to the farmers who grow paddy in other parts of the country.
The minister of agriculture has instructed officials to assess the proposal and present a report on the benefits of designating the area an agricultural zone.
During an earlier era the Kalpitiya area was famous for its production of dried fish. However today, the area despite its sandy soil and arid climatic condition, is better known for its production of fruits and vegetables.
This unbelievable change is solely due to the untiring efforts of the farming community who have transformed the once arid area into a lush orchard. Around 8,000 families live in the area extending from Mampuri to Thalawila via Ethalai, Norochcholai, Kalkudah and Senapola.
Today an extent of 2,500 hectares are covered with vegetable cultivation while another 300 hectares are cultivated with a variety of fruits.
According to farmers the agricultural development in the area has led to the creation of around 30,000 job opportunities. The economic centre at Norochcholai has proved a boon to the farmers as they are able to dispose of their products at the centre.
Around 100 tons of vegetable are said to be traded on a daily basis with buyers from all over the country patronizing the centre. However farmers complain that despite their best efforts, they receive no help from the state.
As chemical fertilizers and insecticides are used abundantly in this region, the minister instructed that a soil test be conducted, and that officials inform farmers about cultivation methods that use minimal chemical fertilizers and water.
Both areas, in the Puttalam District, have unique weather conditions, with mostly dry and semi arid climate zones.
“The soil conditions in the Central Highlands, Jaffna and Kalpitiya are unlike other areas, and therefore, we need to focus on cultivating only suitable crops that can be grown in those areas, and that have high demand,” the minister said in the statement.
Ceylon Fertilizer Company and Colombo Commercial Fertilizers Ltd have agreed to provide mixed fertilizer required for cultivation at a minimum price to farmers in Kalpitiya.