Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena highlighted that network resources available with Sanasa were important to strengthen the rural economy at this moment.
“Sanasa has been working with the rural people for a long time and it has a satisfactory community-base as well. With that experience in hand you need to intervene on a large scale,” the Prime Minister said.
A discussion between Premier Gunawardena and the Sanasa Movement was held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Colombo recently.
MPs Suren Raghavan, Yadamini Gunawardena and Anupa Pascual, Prime Minister’s Secretary Anura Dissanayake, Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration Priyantha Mayadunne, Sanasa President Dr. Kirivandeniya, Professor Hilary Silva and several other Sanasa officials participated in the discussion.
Dr. Kirivandeniya explained that Sanasa has branches all over the country. “We have 26 societies in Mullaitivu. We advised them to cultivate Dollars. Then the people asked how to do it. We advised them to cultivate grains such as Undu and green gram which are imported from foreign countries. By that we could reduce imports and release the local harvest to the market. For that we have given one 10 million Rupees to the 26 societies and within a season and they have paid back all the money with interest. This time we have given Rs 20 Million. The first thing to do is to fix the mindset of the people. We suggest that people should be given the opportunity to develop the village. There are matured people in elders’ organisations, but they are not given any work worthwhile. Those who implement new programmes in the village are not being admired and appreciated”. The Premier added “I request that development councils be established again. We need to create methods of selling and safeguarding products. The Government should be strengthened. Non-Governmental Organisations are being blamed, but they are performing extremely well at village level. Cooperatives are a subject of local governments. In order to strengthen cooperatives, we need to understand these issues. We need to change from what we eat and from what we wear. In that, education has an important role to play. As soon as a graduate leaves the university, they are sent to the private sector for management training. Even Degree holders do not get the due recognition. Why can’t that training be done in the university itself? We work with millions of farmers. We want to work amicably with farmers. The disease should be properly diagnosed and treated.
A long-term programme should be planned. While cultivation is aimed at the garden and the field, we identify separate villages and create producers targeting the market. So far, 200 villages have been selected for that and market representatives have been introduced to those villages to buy the products. The Government should provide them some relief as more expenses will be incurred in exporting”.