May 15, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government has launched an initiative to make the country self-sufficient in big onions and stop the imports by 2015.
Accordingly the Ministry of Agriculture has taken measures to propagate big onion cultivation to nontraditional areas as well.
According to the Agriculture Department, in addition to the Mahaweli zone cultivators in the districts of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Matale, Kurunegala and Puttalam, farmers in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts have also decided to cultivate big onions in the forthcoming season. Big onion cultivation is currently underway in Moneragala and Hambantota districts
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today observing a big onion cultivation in Mahasenpura, Tissamaharama to review the progress of the program instructed the Minister of Cooperatives and Internal Trade Johnston Fernando to arrange a systematic program to purchase big onions produced by local farmers.
The big onion cultivation is to will be expanded over 2,000 hectares of lands and a harvest of 50,000 metric tons is expected to be obtained. The harvest would be sufficient for three months of consumption in the country.
During a discussion with big onion farmers in the area, the President encouraged them to use more organic fertilizer for their cultivations.
The President also instructed Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to arrange concessionary bank loans for the farmers to develop their cultivations, according to state-run media.
The Speaker of parliament Chamal Rajapaksa, Ministers Johnston Fernando and Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Acting Secretary of Agriculture Ministry Asoka Siriwardena and Hambantota District Secretary R.C. Soysa accompanied the President in the tour.
(Photos by Nalin Hewapathirana)