The Agriculture Ministry has launched a chili cultivation revival program in Anuradhapura District, through the district agriculture director's office.
The Provincial Agriculture Department, Inter-provincial Agriculture Department and the Mahaweli Authority are cooperating with the district agriculture director in this issue.
Under this program, steps are being taken to encourage the farmers who have stopped cultivating chilies to recommence cultivating them again and to attract young agriculture entrepreneurs to take to commercial chili growing.
The District Agriculture Department expects to go on with the program under the District Commercial Farming Project and the young entrepreneurs encouraging program of the Ministry. Anuradhapura Agriculture Deputy Director (Extension Services) Buddhika Abesinghe recently pointed out at the district agriculture committee meeting that resulting from the facts such as price fluctuation, poor extension services, absence of an incentive package, the high cultivation cost, vulnerability to fungus attacks, etc., majority of traditional chili farmers in Anuradhapura district have given up commercial chili cultivation.
In the meantime as a major component of the chilly development program, steps have been taken to promote pot-chili cultivation among the young agriculture entrepreneurs. The district agriculture director's office has already assisted 600 young farmers to take to chili cultivation by offering them seeds, planting materials and guidance free last year and it is being expanded on household basis.
At a special meeting held at Gannoruwa with agriculture instructors, etc., participating, it has been decided to enhance the Anuradhapura District contribution towards the county's overall chili production by 60 percent.
It is targeted adhering to this decision to promote chili cultivation especially in Nuwaragam Palatha (Central) Nuwaragam Palatha (East), Mihintale, Rambewa, Thalawa and Kekirawa DS divisions. Simultaneously to this chilli farmers are encouraged to utilise carbonic manure instead of artificial fertiliser and agro chemicals.
Some agriculture officials and farmer organization representatives told the Daily News they were going to appraise Agriculture Minister Duminda Dissanayake about the steps to be prioritized to enhance the district chili cultivation from 2015 Yala season.