Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena says that the time has come for everyone to come together to end hunger in the country. He stated this speaking at the Ratnapura district meeting on food security and nutrition held at the Ratnapura District Secretariat on 12.11.2022.
The Prime Minister further commented that "No cultivable government land should be left uncultivated. Officials cannot object or disturb cultivation in those lands. These lands are the inheritances of the people.
“After the collapse of the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815, the imperialists took possession of prosperous lands in many areas in the upcountry including the Ratnapura district and elsewhere.
“Most of the lands that are now under the government and estate companies are the inheritances that were stolen from those people. The people are asking to cultivate the heritage that was taken away from them in order to appease the hunger of the country today.
“This earth can make us self-sufficient with food. We should create an environment to instill confidence in agriculture for new youth entrepreneurs through that. Officials should always provide all support for that. We have to overcome enormous economic challenges that have arisen.
“We should try to save every Dollar we have. Food safety is prioritized in many areas of programmes implemented by the Government. The government has re-established the programme of providing fertilizer, seeds and other materials through the government’s intervention. Increasing the amount of cultivated land compared to last season, diverting uncultivated lands to cultivation, returning uncultivated lands for cultivation should be the ultimate goal achieved.
“At this time, the state machinery should be more interested in making use of the opportunities provided through the Acts like the Land Reforms Act and the Agricultural Services Act and release land for cultivation. It is my request to the government officials to guide everyone to succeed in these tasks. The Land Reform Commission should take immediate steps to cultivate the uncultivated lands currently held by the Mahaweli Authority and the estate companies.
“We consider this opportunity as one of the main opportunities that the whole country can use for short-term and long-term programmes to win foreign exchange for the country.
“No need to wait for industries to come. Agriculture can be converted into an industry by producing crops that have a high demand. Until our goal is achieved, we must implement the cultivation of crops for food as well as for exports. We have been able to transform the most difficult time in respect of the economy into change,” he concluded.
Sabaragamuwa Provincial Governor Tikiri Kobbekaduwa, State Ministers Janaka Wakkambura, Ashoka Priyantha and Premalal Jayasekara and Members of Parliament Akila Ellawala, Pavitra Vanniarachchi, John Seneviratne, Mudita Soysa, Gamini Valeboda, Varuna Priyantha Liyanage, heads and representatives of local government authorities and government officials participated at the event.