Agriculture Ministry seeks to set up dollar account- By Ifham Nizam
The Ministry of Agriculture had yesterday decided to establish a dollar account for the development of the agriculture sector for the country’s food security, a senior Ministry official said.Chairman of the Presidential Committee on National Food Security, Dr. Suren Batagoda, said that if Sri Lanka’s food security is not ensured, the people of the country will suffer a major nutritional deficiency next year.
A discussion was held at the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation, under the patronage of Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, about the work to be carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture, on food security.Dr. Batagoda, secretaries of the Ministry Rohana Pushpakumara and Mrs. Chandra Herath, as well as Moneragala and Hambantota district secretaries, and a group of officials, participated in the discussion.
The Minister of Agriculture emphasised the breakdowns in the country’s milk, egg and poultry production. Liquid milk production has decreased by 19.8 percent, chicken production by 12.1 percent and egg production by 34.9 percent. If this situation continues, there will be a risk of a complete collapse of the poultry industry, Amaraweera has warned.
It was emphasised at the discussion that the Livestock Industry was collapsing for want of maize and fuel.To avoid that situation, there was a need of USD 900 million for the future activities of agriculture, Dr. Batagoda said, adding that he had proposed a dollar account for the future development of agriculture as there is difficulty in obtaining such an amount from the government treasury.
Accordingly, the Minister of Agriculture, Mahinda Amaraweera, instructed the Secretary of the Ministry to prepare a Cabinet Memorandum to maintain a dollar account under the Ministry of Agriculture.
When asked whether monetary authorities would allow a Ministry to run its own dollar fund, Dr. Batagoda told The Island that he is confident of establishing a special dollar account. He said the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the Monetary Board would endorse it. “If they don’t agree, then we will drop it,” he added.