Sri Lanka can save USD 400 million annually in foreign exchange by becoming self-sufficient in fish while providing employment to thousands of people, Chairman Maubima Lanka Foundation Ariyseela Wickramanayake told Daily News Business.
We import 61,000 tonnes of canned fish annually despite the huge trade deficit. We are already self-sufficient in maize. With the end of the war the sea around our country is free for fishing and we can be self-sufficient in fish too, he said.
Our valiant soldiers won the most difficult battle in the North and the East and people in the country must unite and win the economic battle.
Western countries did not vote for us at the UN meeting when we needed their support. They are reluctant to give us loans and we must take it as a lesson and work to stand on our own without depending on others.
We import 500,000 tonnes of sugar annually when we have traditional and delicious jaggery made out of Kitul. We import fruit when we have better kind of fruit grown here he said.
Wickramanayake said that the same applies to milk too. The country imported milk powder worth USD 300 million last year when there are 1.5 million milch cows in the country.
Thirty-five percent of the country s milk requirement is met by only 250,000 milch cows and if the remaining 1.2 million milch cows are utilized the country will be self-sufficient in milk.
He said that India has become the largest milk producer in the world producing 76 million tonnes of milk annually and they have imposed a 167 percent tax on imported milk powder. If the Government also imposes a similar tax, all dairy farmers will get activated and rear milch cows.
Another foolish thing is that we export paddy and rice residuals. We should feed this to the cows and get the milk without importing milk powder, he said. The North and the East is free from terror and the country can set up dairy farms and cultivate those lands now.
There is no point in merely carrying the national flag without becoming self-sufficient in all what we can produce in the country. If our people adopt the Ganna Ape De attitude half the economic battle can be won, he said.