Opposition leader urges government to focus on eradicating Sena menace

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa

The government must focus on eradicating the Fallarmyworm (Sena) destroying cultivations in several provinces in the country, instead of passing bills that don’t benefit the people, Opposition Leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa told The Island yesterday.

“The sudden appearance and the fast spread of this creature is baffling.

The government must focus on this matter immediately because there are a large number of farmers who depend on corn and corn is also important to the poultry industry as the feed prices will go up,” Rajapaksa said. The Opposition Leader urged the government to reach out to all stakeholders and listen to experts to eradicate the pest.

Meanwhile a close ally of Rajapaksa, former Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, on Sunday urged the government to probe whether Fall Army-Worm (FAW) or ‘Sena’ had been deliberately brought in. Talking to The Island Matara District MP Abeywardena said the issue would be raised in Parliament this week.

Responding to a query, MP Abeywardena alleged that ‘Sena’ had been ‘deployed’ by those who had been affected by Sri Lanka achieving self-sufficiency in maize (corn). Asked whether he accepted responsibility for a very serious allegation, Abeywardena said that he wouldn’t have said so if he had not been sure of the circumstances leading to the crisis.

Although ‘Sena’ had been initially deployed to target maize, it was now destroying other food crops in all parts of the country, the lawmaker said, asserting that the country had not experienced a similar situation in the recent past. Pointing out that maize had been affected in Ampara in Dec. 2018, MP Abeywardena alleged that the government had done nothing to prevent maize being transported to other districts.

The MP named the company that had provided seeds to farmers in the Ampara District. The government should begin the investigation in Ampara. Authorities couldn’t refrain from questioning the supplier of seeds, he said.

Abeygunawardena said that Sri Lanka had achieved self-sufficiency in maize in 2014, under the Rajapaksa government. The SLFPer estimated Sri Lanka’s annual maize requirement at 250,000 tonnes. “We exported 30,000 tonnes to South Africa, in 2014. Since then, the government did everything possible to undermine maize cultivation, the MP alleged that unless the situation wasn’t brought under control within the next few weeks, the national economy would be badly hit.

“This is a sort of tsunami,” MP Abeywardena said, the government was clueless as to how ‘Sena’ could be controlled.

(Source: The Island – By Norman Palihawadana)