The national Vap Magul 2018 will be held in Tissamaharama under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena on October 29.He was addressing a media briefing held in Colombo yesterday,Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said measures were taken to cultivate more lands in parallel to the festival as the area received sufficient rainfall in the recent past.
Abandoned paddy lands will be cultivated from this year. â€œWe have planned to cultivate them again with the support of CSD personnel,â€ he said.â€œWe will grow many verities of vegetables and fruits imported to the country. Reasonable prices will be provided for the products while protecting farmers with an insurance cover.
The Minister said post-harvest loses stand at Rs.10,500 million annually. â€œWe have to reduce this and crop damage caused by animals,â€ he said.The Minister said dried red chilies are imported from India. The imported dried red chilies contain toxin. â€œWe spend around Rs.9,300 million to import dried red chilies and it will be doubled this year as prices have already gone up in India. We will increase taxes on the imports crops and grow them here,â€ he said.
â€œFertilize prices were increased in the world market but we will not curtail the fertilizer subsidy. The pricr of a metric tonne of fertilizer was increased from US$ 330 to US$ 385 in the world market.But we will not burden farmers by increasing fertilizer prices. We are educating farmers about how to refrain from using chemical fertilizer and using organic manures,â€ the Minister said.
â€œThe UN food and agriculture programme has found that use of fertilizer has increased 30 per cent in low land areas and 50 per cent in upcountry areas. If we do not act by now, there will be a bigger repercussion as our harvest will decrease,â€ the Minister said.