By Sandun A. Jayasekera
Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana has decided to put an end to the import of potato, vegetable and onion seeds immediately in a bid to promote local varieties. The import of seeds costs the government over Rs.1 billion annually.
Minister Yapa has appointed a Task Force to study the seed import process and make recommendations to produce 100% of the required seeds locally.
The Task Force is headed by Additional Secretary of the Agriculture Ministry, G.A.M.S. Amitiyagoda.
Sri Lanka annually imports potato, red and big onion and vegetable (especially upcountry vegetable) seeds worth Rs. 400 million from the US, India, Netherlands, Thailand, Pakistan, Germany and Japan, Mr. Amitiyagoda said.
The Task Force is expected to conduct an investigation into the circumstances that led to the closing down of seeds producing centers, seeds selling centers, seeds stores and other establishments that are involved in seed production in the past and propose recommendations to re-activate them.
Mr. Amitiyagoda told Daily Mirror that Sri Lanka imports 10,000 metric tons of highbred potatoes seeds worth Rs. 50 million mainly from Thailand and Japan,75 metric tons of vegetable seeds worth Rs. 400 million from Netherlands and 35 metric tons worth Rs. 35 million of big onion seeds from
In addition Sri Lanka imports corn seeds and bean seeds from the US, Germany and Pakistan.
“We have the potential to develop very high quality potatoes and vegetable seeds that suit our climate and soil that will bring high yields. The technical knowhow is also available. If we can reduce the seeds import budget in the next couple of years it will be highly beneficial to the economy and the agricultural sector,” Mr. Amitiyagoda said.