Jaffna agricultural farming unprofitable, Minister learns

[TamilNet, Sunday, 06 April 2003, 00:17 GMT]
Jaffna district farmers Saturday made an urgent appeal to the visiting Deputy Finance Minister of the United National Front (UNF) government Mr. Bandula Gunawardene to take immediate steps to allow them to cultivate their fertile lands now being occupied by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) said. The said lands fall within the SLA demarcated High Security Zone (HSZ) in the peninsula.

Several hundreds of traditional farmers in the north of Jaffna district live in welfare centres and refugee camps on handouts provided by the Sri Lanka Government, said Mr.R.S.Mudaliyar, Chairman of the Chankanai Farmers' Federation at a conference held at the office of the Department of Agriculture in Jaffna held Saturday morning, sources said.

The markedup prices of fertilizers, the high cost of fuel and other agricultural items have made sustaining profitable agricultural farming for a livelihood difficult, Mudaliyar further said.

He told the deputy minister that the margin of profit in agricultural cultivation is very less compared to other parts of the country. A cwt of urea fertilizer is sold at about Rs 808 at Madawachchiya, a Sinhala village in the northwestern province but in Jaffna the same bag costs more than Rs 950/=, the Minister was told.

Mr.R.S.Mudaliyar on behalf of the Jaffna agricultural producers brought to the notice of the Deputy Finance Minister the sufferings of the farmers. Although more than sixty five percent of the Jaffna district population depends on agriculture, there is scarcely any assistance provided to the farmers by the Agriculture Department.

Mr.Mudaliyar requested the Deputy Finance Minister to help the Jaffna farmers enabling them to market their produce at a reasonable price ensuring the return of their capital and to enjoy a similar standard of living as their counterparts in the rest of the island, sources said.

Deputy Finance Minister Mr. Bandula Gunawardene accompanied by United National Party parliamentarian Mr.K.Rathnathilake arrived Jaffna Saturday morning by air at the invitation of the Hindu Affairs Minister Mr. T.Maheswaran who is also a Jaffna district parliamentarian, sources said.

Minister Mr. Maheswaran took the Deputy Finance Minister Mr. Bandula Gunawardene to Maruthanamadam, Chunnakam and Chankanai markets. Deputy Minister Mr Gunawardene used the opportunity to gather information about the plight of agricultural producers, sources said.

It is reported that the Deputy Finance Minister had assured the producers of the area that he would take immediate steps to allocate 200 million rupees to construct a new market at Maruthanamadam, which is considered as one of the main business centre in the Jaffna agricultural sector where daily farmers assemble to sell their produce on wholesale, sources said.

According Jaffna agricultural sector, markets at Chunnakam, Maruthanamadam and Chankanai decide the wholesale price of farm produce daily, sources said.

 

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