10 Main Issues faced by the Farmers and Agri based entrepreneurs in Uva, summed up at the KPF

Many farmer organizations (Govi Sanwidanaya) participated at the Key Persons Forum held in Bandarawella, in recently month. Among the Farmer Organizations took part were, Ambeygoda, Hathapeella, Gemunu, Dehiwela, Samagi, Wewadigadowa, Palawatte, Nugathalawa, Pattiyagedara, Badulla District Green House Farmers Association, Eco Organic Farm Matale and Bandarawella Golden Flower Farmers Association. 10 main issues were identified at the forum and observed issues and concerns were forwarded for the attention of the minister.

Launching the forum in his opening remarks, Mr.Kumar Mallimaratchi, President FCCISL said KPF is a part of the business and public awareness effort on issues pertaining to the business, economy and the society. He also stated that bringing this forum to the region is a fulfillment of the communication gap between the stakeholders of the regional level trade and industry and policy level decision makers. Mr. Nalin Attygalle, CEO, FCCISL explaining the objectives of the KPF stated that it is for the first time that such forum is organized in regional level. “The forum is a platform for you to interact and engage in dialogue with an eminent person in a responsible position. You also get the chance to forward your issues and exchange your views and ides with the policy level decision makers. It is the best time to rethink how farmers can take an entrepreneurial approach and expand their farming plus marketing their agri products”, Attygalle said.

The forum was addressed by Hon. Mahida Yapa Abeywardena, Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Services on “Agro ways of Industrial Development through Agriculture”. Delivering the key note, Hon Minister stated that farmers need to cultivate varieties that have sufficient demand to strive on agri based marketing. He also said there are hidden opportunities in niche markets that farmers need to discover. Emphasizing the importance of managing demand and supply minister said “farmers need to use higher yielding seeds, cultivate varieties that are in high demand in the market, pay attention for quality in post harvesting and regularly communicate with the traders and get updated about the industry in order to persuade a pricing strategy.

At the discussion farmers have highlighted that Government needs to provide facilities to produce high quality seeds to save money spent on importing seeds. They also proposed to distribute Seed Potatoes through Divi Neguma Programme and to introduce a new rice seed that suits for Uva. It was proposed    to promote use of organic fertilizer by way of subsidizing relevant machineries and tools used for producing organic fertilizer. The farmers called for a Government intervention in distributing chemical fertilizer and request to subsidize agriculture machineries.

It is said that large-scale devastation of agriculture land and destruction of food crops caused by natural disasters and urged for compensation to the affected farmer to mitigate the damage and salvage. A mechanism to protect natural streams, priorities natural forests instead of managed forests, , rehabilitation of irrigation cannels, small tanks and anicuts were on the list of priorities in protecting soil and water. Participants requested Government intervention in Agriculture Marketing and emphasized the value of Crop Diversification. Farmers complained on destruction make by the wild animals such as monkeys, wild boar and crocodiles and the loss of crops. Two farmer organizations in Matale and Bandarawella appealed for agricultural loans to develop Liquid Fertilizer and Green House projects.

There were more than 120 farmers, entrepreneurs, traders, public and private sector officials participated at the Key Persons Forum. The forum was organized by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Uva Province and supported by the Asia Foundation under its Local Economic Governance Program, which is funded by the Australian International Agency for Development (AusAID. Uva Chamber President, M.I.M Pathahulla said it is a huge accomplishment for the local chamber to engage in organizing this forum in Bandarawella. “Our members, farmers and public were able to interact with the minister and forward their issues and grievances to minster. This might be the first time they got a chance to approach to a high level minster”, Mr. Pathahulla continued. A Chamber-Farmer-Business Mechanism is to be introduced to interim with the Government in order to continue the communication and find solutions for the issues faced by the different stakeholders of the Agriculture trade in Uva.