In a recent announcement, the Minister of Agriculture Hon. Mahinda Amaraweera has instructed relevant officials to temporarily suspend permission for the reclamation of paddy land. As a result, any reclamation of paddy land can only be carried out with special permission from the Ministry.
This announcement was made during the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Agriculture held in Parliament on March 7th. The committee had drawn attention to the reclamation of paddy lands, prompting the Minister’s response.
The Minister went on to assure committee members that all necessary facilities, including fertilizers, would be provided to ensure the success of the next Yala season. TSP fertilizer will be provided free of charge for the next season, while Urea will cost Rs. 10,000 or less. The Minister also announced that MOP fertilizer would be provided at a lower price than current market prices. The strengthening of the rupee was also highlighted, with the Minister emphasizing its potential benefits to farmers. The government, he added, would intervene as much as possible to reduce the cost of farming.
During the meeting, the committee also discussed the Animal Welfare Bill, which is set to be presented to Parliament. A group of invited guests, including Attorney at Law Mrs. Lalani S. Perera, commented on the need for new animal welfare legislation. They highlighted the inadequacy of the existing law for animal welfare in the country, which dates back to 1907. According to them, the law is no longer strong enough to protect the rights of animals, and new legislation that complies with international standards is needed.
However, some MPs pointed out that any new animal welfare laws should not hinder the use of animals for agricultural and cultural activities. They suggested that a final draft of the proposed bill should be prepared after further in-depth discussions on the matter. As a result, it was decided that a meeting would be held in two weeks at the ministerial level, during which related written requests would be discussed.
The committee comprised several members, including State Minister Hon. Mohan Priyadarshan de Silva, State Minister Hon. D.B Herath, Members of Parliament Hon. S. Sritharan, Hon. Udayakantha Gunathilake, Hon. Kulasingham Thilipan, Hon. Upul Mahendra Rajapaksa, and a group of MPs and officials, including the Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The temporary suspension of permission for the reclamation of paddy land is a significant step towards protecting the country’s natural resources. The government’s efforts to provide necessary facilities and reduce the cost of farming are commendable, and the proposed Animal Welfare Bill is an important initiative towards ensuring the rights of animals are protected. The forthcoming meeting to discuss the bill further is a positive step towards achieving this goal.