Government aims to uplift rural industries in NWP: Johnston | Daily News

Government aims to uplift rural industries in NWP: Johnston

Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said yesterday that agriculture is one of the largest industries in the Kurunegala District, as well as the Northwestern Province (NWP). He was addressing a seminar under the theme of ‘National Programme for Development of Rural Economy’, which was held at the Kurunegala District Secretariat Auditorium’s conference hall.

Tea Export State Minister Kanaka Herath, Rural Industry State Minister Prasanna Ranaweera, Kurunegala District Acuminating Committee Chairman Gunapala Rathnasekara, and several other government officials took part in the meeting.

Minister Fernando said the government is dedicated to uplifting rural economy in the Northwestern Province, as well as upgrading its major industries. He added that the coconut and coir industries are two of the main ones in the province, and that coir dust has become a major foreign exchange earner.

The minister, addressing the seminar, said that governments in power from 2000 to 2015 failed to maintain the rural economy of the country. “President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is on a mission to take the country on a path of progress; he plans to restore peace and unity in the country,” he added.

The duty of all government officials is to cooperate with the President in his goals. State Minister Prasanna Ranaweera said the government’s key objective on rural development is to develop villages. He added that the government plans to provide financial assistance to craftsmen so that they could purchase the raw materials and equipment needed for their work.

Ranaweera said that during the past decade, governments had ignored artistes and rural craftsmen. However, he said, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is keen on traditional crafts and is taking steps to uplift the living standards of the craftsmen, as well as the standards of their products.

Kurunegala District Coordinating Committee Chairman Gunapala Rathnasekara requested the Agricultural Department to plant palm trees on slopes of hills in the Northwestern Province in order to open a new avenue for foreign exchange.

Rathnasekara said that once planted, the palm trees would be ready for tapping in five years. He added that once that begins, people in the area could focus on earning an income through the production of palm honey and jaggery.