Sri Lanka

President to inaugurate the drought relief program

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The programme of providing relief facilities for the farmers affected by the recent drought will commence on the 18th of this month under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapakse. The objective of the programme is to provide cultivation assistance to the farmers uninterruptedly.

Already a programme under the theme of “payment for the work” is being implemented for renovation of tanks and reservoirs. Another programme for de-silting is also being implemented with farmers participating in the project.

Officials of the Ministry of Agriculture said that steps will also be taken to provide high quality seed paddy, fertilizer and assistance for preparation of the cultivation land. Gathering of data in this connection relating to the extent of affected areas are being implemented at present.

The President has instructed the relevant authorities to take measures for paying farmers pension immediately and give priority for the farmers in the drought stricken areas. He has instructed the ministries of finance and agrarian services to implement a joint programme in this connection. The officials have also been requested to provide drinking water facilities and other relief measures. He has also requested the Ministry of finance to introduce a mechanism of enrolling the farmers who receive the fertilizer subsidy in a savings scheme.

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena participating in a discussion with the farmers in Godagama, Matara yesterday said that the President has provided an allocation of Rs. 3,600 Million to provide compensation for the farmers victimized by the recent drought. He said that 200,000 bushels of high quality seed paddy is already being made available for cultivation for the next season. (niz)