Minister of Agriculture, Wildlife and Forest Conservation, Mahinda Amaraweera said, a programme will be launched to take over uncultivated paddy land throughout the country for a period of five years, to cultivate food crops.
The Ministry of Agriculture’s Parliamentary Consultative Committee Meeting was recently held in the Parliamentary Committee Room. Several MPs who took part in the debate asked the Minister about the cultivation of uncultivated paddy lands in Sri Lanka.
The Minister said a special programme will be launched to address paddy lands that are uncultivated.
Amaraweera said the Department of Agrarian Development will identify these paddy lands and distribute them to those who have not had land for cultivation for five years, with priority given to youth who do not have land to cultivate but were interested in doing so.
People who own barren paddy fields, he claims, are living abroad, while others do not cultivate the land due to labour shortages. He said, ”At the moment, we estimate that there are over 100,000 hectares of fallow paddy land in the island. The majority are in the Western Province. More than 50,000 hectares of fallow paddy land is available for cultivation. Approximately 20,000 hectares of paddy land are unsuitable for cultivation. In 2018/19, as Minister of Agriculture, I took steps to cultivate 27,000 acres of barren paddy land. Plans are in place to replant more fallow paddy lands during the next Maha season. Many barren fields will be cultivated with green peas, soybeans, corn, and cowpeas. The Shojan system can be used to grow vegetables and fish in some swampy paddy fields,” he said.
Amaraweera said discussions in this regard have already been held with officials and that steps were being taken in this regard.