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National agriculture modernization gets underway with public and private sector aid

By: Staff Writer

March 04, Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka’s ongoing agriculture modernization project us to be further invigorated  by integrating public and private sectors under the mission of making it as a national venture with the assistance of international donor agencies spearheaded by  the World Bank.

Agriculture is characterized by a non-plantation sector and a plantation sector. Of the country’s approximately 2.3 million hectaresof agricultural land, 80 percent is used for non-plantation food crops, comprising rice, maize, fruits, vegetables and other crops that are 2 primarily grown on smallholder farms.

About 1.65 million smallholder farmers operate on average less than 2 hectares and contribute 80 percent of the total annual food production

The on going World Bank funded Agriculture Sector Modernization Project is aligned with the Country Partnership Strategy.

The project seeks to support structural shifts in the economy” and “Improved living standards and social inclusion

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has directed relevant officials to develop a national program integrating public and private sectors for successful agriculture modernization initiative.

He highlighted that despite annual budget allocations at national, provincial and local levels, the separate operations of public and private institutions have led to delays in achieving desired outcomes.

The President underscored the importance of garnering support from both public and private agricultural research institutes, along with the university system, to address the challenges encountered in implementing this program.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe conveyed these sentiments during the progress review meeting of the Agriculture Modernization Program, convened at the Presidential Secretariat recently.

He also emphasized the necessity of formulating a national program that aligns with government policies and can be effectively implemented at the grass-root level.Furthermore, he instructed the relevant officials to initiate the 26 related projects promptly.

The President elaborated that addressing this challenge requires a collaborative effort involving both the public and private sectors, as well as small and medium-scale agricultural entrepreneurs. while reiterataring  his ultimate intention to establish an agricultural export economy.

Senior Professor Gamini Senanayake emphasized the need of elevating agriculture to a commercial level, safeguard agro-biodiversity and promote land ownership among individuals involved in agricultural activities.

He expressed the expectation of establishing a Cabinet Sub-Committee under the Chairmanship of the President to address various obstacles and limitations arising in the implementation of the agriculture modernization program.

 Senior Professor Gamini Senanayake, noting the commencement of pilot projects in 26 Divisional Secretariats across all 25 districts, mentioned that each Divisional Secretariat has been allocated LKR 25 million for agricultural modernization projects.

Furthermore, he highlighted that project proposals have already been received from all the selected divisional secretariats.

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