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President stresses need for national plan to ensure food security

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday said that a national plan should be implemented to ensure food security and nutrition in Sri LankaHe made this observation, addressing the inaugural program for the establishment of the Multi-sector Combined Mechanism for empowering of Rural Economic Revitalization Centers to ensure food security and nutrition.

The programme was held at the Presidential Secretariat. The President pointed out that agriculture can make foreign exchange by enhancing production and competitiveness through the modernization of agriculture.The President emphasized the need to work in an organized and collective manner to solve the food crisis.

“The government has got to face the challenge of provision of food to all since the country is experiencing severe economic distress. The construction sector is experiencing a serious problem and that is causing massive unemployment. Who will look after them? A section of the people can’t afford food and the middle class is disappearing,” he said.

Due to the war in Ukraine, Sri Lanka can’t get the necessary flour supplies, while the floods in Pakistan have destroyed their farming lands. “India has brought the food export to a close while China too has reduced exports. This situation would not come to an end by this December but could last for two years.

Thus, the country would have to face a food crisis. Even the fuel price could rise more in the winter as demand from the west increases. Food should be produced locally. The food security programme was initiated in order to achieve this end,’ he said.The President said that the government has secured USD 200 million for the provision of fertiliser for the Maha season. Another USD 20 million will be enough to provide adequate supplies, he said.

“Discussions are in progress at the Ministerial level to get the seeds for cultivation from countries such as Thailand. There is a shortage of seeds in some areas. When implementing the cultivation programme, we have to be careful. If there is a surplus of harvest the market would crash, so we need to work on storage. There should be a national programme to guarantee food production and the same should be implemented at the Provincial, district and divisional secretariat level with participation of all,” he said.

Officials must work hard to collect the harvest and reduce wastage. Officials will be educated on collection and storage and the necessary assistance should also be provided by the line ministers, he said.

“If the wastage can be reduced by 10 percent I will be happy. A 25 percent reduction in waste can solve most of our problems. There should be a mechanism to store any type of food and the assistance of the private sector must be sought in this endeavour. Provided that all these endeavours are successfull by Maha Season cultivation, the country can come out of the chaotic situation,” he said.

Wickremesinghe said that the Agriculture Modernization Programme must be implemented as soon as possible.

“By the end of 2023, we should get the modernization programme going in full swing. We should earn foreign exchange from agriculture. By 2050, our population will be 25 million. This might be a problem if we don’t modernize agriculture. However, growing populations, not only here but globally, presents many opportunities, in many places, from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia the population will explode. The demand for food will only grow. If we can produce an agricultural surplus, we can sell them and make money.” He said.



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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs

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A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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