“The Ministry of Primary Industries together with Agriculture Ministry, Ministry of Rural and Fisheries Ministry will set up 21 export oriented agriculture zones to rectify that,” Minister Gamage said at the inauguration of a workshop at Water’s Edge, Battaramulla (08) today.
The theme of the event was ‘Emerging Food Safety and Quality Risks in South Asia: Challenges and Opportunities for Sri Lanka.’ It was organised by the Ministry of Primary Industries and Institute of Policy Studies in collaboration with the International Food Policy Research Institute.
Food safety experts from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka discussed changes in the region’s food system, including rising urban consumption and the new challenges it presents for policy makers to adopt stringent food quality standards.
Speaking further, Minister Gamage said that like other South Asian countries, Sri Lanka’s population has grown significantly in recent years, most notably in urban areas. The first high tech agriculture zone will be set up in Anuradhapura, to be followed by 10 more, he said.
“These zones will provide training and know-how for farmers to prevent post harvest waste. Further, those zones will provide storage facilities with deep freezers and proper packing methods for farmers,’ Minister Gamage said.
He also said that these economic zones will provide advice on how to reduce post harvest waste when transporting, storing and packaging with the use of new technology to be obtained from developed countries.
Minister Gamage also said that since the agricultural sector could be converted into a major export business they are now looking at investors with an initial investment of Rs 10 million to invest Rs 100 million. This could be implemented by the Ministry of Primary Industries.
The Ministry of Primary Industries will grant 50 percent and another bank loan will be arranged to go upto Rs 100 million for the prospective investors who are willing to invest Rs 10 million, Minister Gamage said.
Director South Asia – The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) P.K. Joshi said that when compared to other South Asian countries Sri Lanka is doing well where the food safety area is concerned.
He also said that urbanization is driving huge changes in how small farmers connect with markets to sell their goods, the choices people make about their diets and the way that food systems are governed.
Sri lankan farmers are now working to meet urban food demands and improve food safety through enhanced networks and increased access to technology, Joshi added.
Joshi presented key findings from the institute’s 2017 Global Food Policy Report to the Minister Gamage