President unveils ambitious plans for agricultural modernization

President unveils ambitious plans for agricultural modernization

President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday (Aug. 10) unveiled an ambitious plan aimed at revolutionizing Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector.

The proposed initiative involves the establishment of an Agricultural Modernization Task Force, which is set to encompass all crops and sectors within the industry, according to President’s Media Division (PMD).

Addressing the critical need for collaboration between the government and the private sector, the task force is expected to pave the way for comprehensive agricultural reforms.

The task force will include representatives from respective government departments and selected private sector entities, reflecting the need for a multifaceted approach.

PMD says President Wickremesinghe’s vision extends beyond crop cultivation to encompass animal husbandry in due course.

In the pursuit of this ambitious agricultural modernization program, the President has highlighted the critical importance of modernizing the Agricultural Support System as a foundational step.

He also underscored the importance of a comprehensive overhaul of the support mechanisms to achieve the envisioned transformation in the agricultural sector.

PMD says the President’s call for modernization extends to various facets of the agricultural support system, including technical expertise, market linkages, and the adoption of advanced technologies.

He acknowledged that a re-imagined support system would play a pivotal role in empowering farmers to embrace modern practices and technologies, thereby boosting productivity and sustainability.

An integral aspect of this initiative is said to be the incorporation of resources and expertise from the Ministries of Agriculture, Plantations, and Irrigation as well as Mahaweli Authority. This consolidation, combined with the participation of nine provincial councils, seeks to address challenges comprehensively with the assistance of the respective Governors.

PMD noted that the involvement of the private sector will further diversify expertise and resources. President Wickremesinghe’s plan extends beyond governmental agencies, and seeks to integrate universities and research institutions into the modernization endeavour, it added.

The Head of State has emphasized the importance of breaking down barriers and forming specialized groups within the task force. The goal is to address specific subjects such as paddy cultivation, Mahaweli development and vegetable production. Expertise from individuals will be instrumental in guiding these efforts.

The President has articulated this sweeping agricultural modernization strategy which aimed at transforming Sri Lanka’s farming sector during an agriculture modernisation meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday.

Moreover, President Wickremesinghe advocated the diversification of efforts across various sectors within agriculture, urging private sector involvement in fields such as paddy and vegetable cultivation. He proposed tailored collaboration to optimize outcomes and promote growth.

In addition, President Wickremesinghe highlighted the need for a revamped paddy purchasing system. He stressed the importance of ensuring value for money and optimal utilization of resources. The President has underscored that the funds expended on paddy purchases and related endeavours could have been redirected to provide essential sustenance to the population.

A key focus of the President’s discussion was on revamping Sri Lanka’s paddy purchasing system. President Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of prudent resource allocation and optimal utilization of funds. He highlighted potential partnerships with established companies in agriculture and emphasized the need for a unified approach.

To ensure successful implementation of the modernization strategy, President Wickremesinghe urged active private sector participation. He underscored the potential for substantial gains in both productivity and sustainability by involving private enterprises. He hinted at potential collaborations with international partners, like Thailand, to bolster the modernization drive and underlines the commitment to sourcing innovative solutions from around the globe.

PMD explained that President Wickremesinghe’s vision emphasizes the need for rapid modernization that not only elevates agricultural productivity but also addresses pressing concerns related to climate change.

His call to consider climate change targets in the process of modernization reflects a forward-thinking approach that seeks not only to enhance productivity but also to safeguard the delicate balance of our ecosystem. His vision encapsulates the urgency of addressing climate challenges while concurrently modernizing agricultural practices.

In addition, President Wickremesinghe signalled a transformation of the 567 agrarian service centres island–wide into comprehensive farmer service hubs. He proposed the hiring of machinery from these centres to aid smallholder farmers who lack access to modern equipment. President Wickremesinghe underscored the importance of balancing regulations and private sector engagement in this endeavour.

Wrapping up his speech, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to supporting agriculture as a potent avenue for national development. He called for coordinated efforts, innovative strategies and a unified approach to ensure the success of the modernization drive. The President’s comprehensive vision seeks to pave the way for a vibrant, sustainable and dynamic agricultural sector in Sri Lanka.