Basil meets Indian Agriculture Minister
India to rush tractors, seeds to kick-start
agriculture in N&E

by S Venkat Narayan
Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, August 26: India will rush 500 tractors and several tons of groundnut and black gram seeds to help kick-start agriculture in the civil war-ravaged northern and eastern provinces after a gap of 30 years during the maha season, beginning next month.


This was disclosed by visiting Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa in an interview to The Island here day.

India will also send a large number of buffaloes and heads of cattle to boost Sri Lanka’s livestock and milk production. This used to be an annual practice some years ago. It will be resumed this season at Sri Lanka’s specific request.

Basil Rajapaksa, who is also in charge of resettlement, reconstruction and rehabilitation in the NorthEast, said: "I met Indian Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Tuesday and sought India’s help to revive agriculture in the North and East, where we want to start agricultural activities along with farming in the rest of Sri Lanka."

The minister said: "Mr Pawar has readily agreed to help us out. India will send us 500 tractors and several tons of groundnuts and black gram. We have adequate stocks of paddy seeds."

"We have also requested him to send buffaloes and heads of cattle in adequate numbers to boost our live stock and milk production. He has promised to do so. We will be buying Indian buffaloes for the first time after many, many years."

Agricultural activities had come to a grinding halt in the NorthEast for nearly three decades because of the bloody civil war with the LTTE, which ended with the killing of Velupillai Prabhakaran in May last year.


"We will resume farming in the North and East this coming season. Thanks to India’s help, we will be able to undertake agricultural operations all across our country at the same time for the first time in 30 years during the coming season," he declared.


Rajapaksa said: "The maha season is starting pretty soon. So, I requested Mr Pawar to rush the tractors, groundnut and black gram seeds, buffaloes and other cattle as soon as possible."


On Tuesday, the minister met Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Tourism Minister Kumari Selja. He arrived here on Monday night, and had dinner with Foreign Secretary Mrs Nirupama Rao.


Rajapaksa said: " During my visit to India this time, we did not spend too much time discussing resettlement because it will be coming to an end soon. Instead, we concentrated on future plans for our North and East." OVER

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