Sri Lanka spends foreign exchange on importing food to the value of Rs. 400 billion of which Rs. 60 million had been spent on sugar, while Rs. 50 billion for milk. A further approximately, Rs. 80 billion worth of agro-toxins are imported into the country every year. With a population of over 20 million and increasing annually, there is plenty of scope available to plan our agriculture and related activities.
At present our agriculture related activities mainly relies on farmers with small holdings. For ages this type of subsistence farming has taken place with support from relevant authorities. But a proper planned agriculture will give more benefit to the stakeholders and the whole country.
Due to lack of planning by the authorities involved there is surplus production during the harvest season resulting glut of these products that causes reduction in price. As the result the producers lose their profit causing them to seek other avenues to earn a living. While off season there is a scarcity of these items forcing the state to import these items.
Properly planned agriculture, fishing and dairy farming at province level integrated by the center could help to reduce the food import bill and increase the livelihood of local producers. It must be clearly understood there will always be a need to import food items not produced in the country; this could be offset by increasing the production of home grown items with export market in mind to bring in valuable foreign exchange.
Another factor is the cost of importing inputs for agriculture. The amount of garbage generated in the country goes waste at present, causing many health hazards to the people.
Garbage generated in the western province for example is in excess of 3,000 metric tonnes per day with the present collection around 75 percent. With proper planning at every province with the responsible authorities at the center the waste generated could be recycled into compost for enriching the soil.
In this scenario, this is an area that needs to be expedited to save valuable foreign exchange and at the same time set targets to manage municipal garbage effectively without making it a health and environmental problems for the people.