Ranil seeks Indian help to revive agriculture
News Courtesy: The Hindu
The Leader of the Opposition in Sri Lanka and former Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, sought India’s assistance in reviving agriculture and fisheries in the Vanni region, pointing out that “until the region returns to normalcy and commences food production and fisheries, Sri Lanka will continue to have problems.”
“It will affect the food supply and also have an impact on cost of living,” Mr Wickremesinghe told The Hindu in Chennai.
Mr. Wickremesinghe, who had a detailed discussion with agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan on these issues, said: “India’s technical knowledge and its advances in agriculture… will help not only the people of Vanni region but the whole country.”
The Vanni region, together with the Eastern Province, the North Central Province, and the Mahaweli basin, constitutes the food bowl of Sri Lanka. Most of the rice and vegetables are grown here. There is also significant milk production.
“Most of the people in the Vanni region earn their livelihood from these two sectors,” he said, pointing out how the fighting between the Army and the LTTE in the Vanni region during 2008 and 2009 had devastated both agriculture and fisheries.
“This is having an impact on the economy of Sri Lanka itself as the overall food production has come down,” he said.
In his view, besides reviving agriculture and fisheries, India can help to improve the storage and marketing system through modernisation. He also wanted India’s assistance in water management as there were a lot of small tanks.
“The technical support necessary for this is available in India. The Indian government should also be able to offer necessary financial support… If this is done, Vanni will not only regain its earlier position but also improve its performance in these two sectors, earning more money,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said.
He said this could prove a pilot project for the modernisation of agriculture and fisheries in other parts of Sri Lanka.
“I discussed these issues with Dr. Swaminathan, who has been visiting Sri Lanka and advising the Indian and Sri Lankan governments. He said this can be done and it should be done,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said.
Dr. Swaminathan will visit Sri Lanka next month for an international meeting.
The former Prime Minister said he had already had a discussion with Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao when she visited Sri Lanka.
Mr. Wickremesinghe said political leaders in Tamil Nadu could also help Sri Lanka by urging the Central government to undertake these programmes.
In response to a specific question, he said de-mining was a real problem. “There should be an accelerated demining programme. But the government must be prepared to request help from many of the non-governmental agencies which have the capacity. When I was the Prime Minister, demining was started under the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA), and a large number of non-governmental groups helped us. With the capacity available in the developed world, we were able to do demining successfully,” he recalled. However, the mines were laid by both sides during the subsequent fighting.
“Demining will enable the agriculture and fisheries development to take place. Jaffna is a lagoon itself and an ideal area for fisheries development,” he said.
Asked whether he would be able to persuade President Mahinda Rajapaksa to accept the proposals, he responded: “We could only make these suggestions publicly.”
The brutal evil oppressive regime of Tamil terrorist leader VP did the most damage for 30 years to his own people in many areas of Tamil society. Agriculture and fisheries were two of them. It is the War of Liberation of HE President Mahinda Rajapaksa that saved the Tamils in their dire plight from their own evil self-appointed spokesman and leader.
Today, the infra-structure in the North and East are being built on fast-track. The lakes in the North and East which supplied water for people and agriculture from the times of ancient kings of Sri Lanka who built them are being renovated and made functional again. The industrious farmers are growing their long abandoned crops once again with zeal and marketing them to the South. They smile happily as the money rolls in and they and their families thrive. Fishing boats which were seized by the LTTE for their terrorist operations are restored to the fishermen or new ones gifted by the Sri Lankan government, to resume their livelihood in fishing with no restrictions. Large stocks of fish are netted and transported to the South to enrich the fishermen. Their happy smiles reflect their success.
Ranil as usual is blind to all this success. He has not been on tour of North and the East to study for himself with an unbiased eye the aftermath of the War of Liberation, the success story. Instead he runs to and fro to Chenna, like a dog with its tail on fire, to bleat like a goat to the die-hard Tamil nationalists in Chennai for their political clout with the Central Government to put pressure on Sri Lankan government for non-existent shortcomings of the government. India has its own problems to feed its billion and a half nation at the same time as waging war with terrorists groups in all directions to interfere in the internal affairs of SL.
What can India teach us we do not know already? Doesn’t Ranil know we have top experts in agriculture and fisheries who have already engaged themselves in helping the locals in these areas with knowledge the experts have acquired through their own research as well as in collaboration in these fields with other nations in the East and West? So after a long silence Ranil thinks he has come up with a trump card to play. It shows how out-of-touch he is. Isn’t it time he concentrate in changing the UNP constitution and do something worthwhile for a change instead of running away from the problem? Would he rather cling on to power till the remnant MPs in his pathetic party has all left the roost? He is in a dilemma not knowng which way to turn or what to do, but trying in vain to look important by gallavanting every now and then to India or to the West until Sajith wrest his crown ultimately in an internecine war.