Mr. P. Harrison, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Livestock Development, Irrigation, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development attending a ceremony to hand over Letters of Appointment to Board Members of the Mahaweli Livestock Venture and poultry Development Company, stated that any farmer affected due to Fall Armyworm Menace who have been suffered any injustice in receiving compensation could appeal now.
According to the Minister, the severely affected district is Ampara.Monaragala and Anuradhapura come second and other districts are slightly affected .In spite of this unfortunate situation we have received the highest ever maize output this season which has been estimated to be around 0.3 Million Metric Tons.
I think the damage is minimum and in many instances less than 10%.There were fully damaged and halfly damaged cultivations, some were slightly damaged with no effect on the output.
I highly appreciate the support extended by the Media in controlling the pest. Both electronic and printed media extended their support in this national endeavor. In fact publicity given by the media was helpful to make the public aware of this alarming situation. The support extended by the Government Ministers and MPs is extremely praiseworthy. His Excellency the President took immediate action within his reach to control the pest effectively by appointing a Presidential Task Force. The Prime Minister, too personally mediated by calling for daily reports on the situation .The Cabinet of Ministers has approved the payment of compensation to affected farmers. Apart from the Government, the private sector institutions, agronomists and researchers has made their maximum contributions to minimize the damage of the Fall Armyworm.
Speaking further the Minister expressed views on the purchasing of paddy. “We don’t give money directly to the Paddy Marketing Board .Instead funds have already been released to District Secretaries to make purchasing. In Sri Lanka there are 210 paddy stores all of which are open at present. Sufficient funds have been released to the GA, Anuradhapura. The Cabinet has approved Rs. 5000 million for this purpose. The Prime Minister has assured to make further allocation if that amount is insufficient. At present PMB has purchased 10,000 MT of paddy while the highest purchasing is from the North Central Province .I kindly request from farmers to dry their harvest to be humidity at the level of 14% before being taken to PMB stores. If any store rejects the acceptance of your harvest bring it to the notice of the chairman PMB or myself to take necessary action.
If you bring your harvest without drying up to the required level causes inconvenience to the authorities apart from wasting public money, the charge of which is invariably leveled at us. Drying of the paddy harvest is a must before being taken to store as the PMB has to preserve their stocks for many months. These will not a problem for mill owners, because they do not keep them for long like PMB.
As an MP representing the farmer community I firmly believe that the purchasing price of paddy shall be increased as such increase has not been effected over several cultivations seasons. However at the same time we have to protect the consumers too. That’s why we introduced Maximum Retail Price at Rs.80/- for rice. However we don’t remain at the same point and try to offer a reasonable Price for paddy farmer at least from next ‘Yala’ season.