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‘Aluth Sahal Mangalya’ held at Sri Maha Bodhiya (Pics)



The National New Paddy Harvest Festival, known as the ‘Aluth Sahal Mangalya’, was held at the historic Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya in Anuradhapura yesterday (02), under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe. 

This festival is a longstanding tradition where the first harvested paddy of the Maha season is offered to the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya. The event was organized for the 56th time by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Services, under the guidance of the Chief Incumbent of the Atamasthana, Venerable Pallegema Hemarathana Thera.
Many farmers from different parts of the country attended the traditional ceremony with the hope of receiving blessings from nature and the Triple Gem. Their wish was for timely showers, bountiful harvests, and a prosperous economy for the country and the nation.

After the traditional ceremony, the President paid his respects to the sacred Sri Maha Bodhiya and received blessings. The procession followed the ancient traditions and began near the Anuradhapura Lion Pillar before entering the Sri Maha Bodhiya premises through the Welimaluwa.

It is a traditional custom for the Atamasthanadipati Ven. Pallegama Hemarathana Thera to fill the golden offertory bowl with fresh rice from various regions of the country, accompanied by the chanting of Seth Pirith by the Maha Sangha. During this year’s ceremony, President Ranil Wickremesinghe also participated in the filling of the golden bowl with rice.

That is an interesting and significant cultural practice for the offering of pure bee’s honey and ghee which is a way of showing respect and gratitude to the sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya, which is considered one of the most revered Buddhist relics in Sri Lanka. It also reflects the importance of nature and the traditional agricultural practices that are deeply ingrained in Sri Lankan culture.

Mr. Chinthana Wilegoda, Chairman of the Traditional Rice Farmers’ Protection Organization, presented President Wickremesinghe with a bundle of rice pods that corresponded to his age. The President then distributed region-specific seeds and rice varieties to farmers from all nine provinces. Additionally, the President received a digital copy of the 56th National ‘Aluth Sahal Mangalya’ commemorative edition.

The Atamasthanadhipathi, Nuwara Kalaviya Chief Sanghanayake Ven. Pallegama Hemarathana Thera delivering a special exhortation said;

The farmers have expressed their grievances about the inadequate prices they are receiving for their crops. We are empathetic to the challenges faced by farmers.

A substantial amount of funding has been allocated by the government towards supporting the agriculture industry and farmers. It is imperative to address the issues faced by farmers in order to advance the country as a whole. Providing effective solutions to farmers’ problems has the potential to resolve many of the issues plaguing the nation.

There is a need to modernize agriculture and promote sustainable practices by equipping farmers with modern knowledge and techniques. The current president possesses the necessary leadership qualities to drive this initiative forward. This endeavour transcends politics and is a crucial step towards progress for the entire nation.

Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera also expressed his views;

Upon assuming office, the President inherited a situation where farmers were protesting on the streets, indicating the gravity of the issues they faced. The President took charge in such circumstances. When the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture was entrusted to me by the President, he instructed to ensure the timely supply of fertilizer to farmers to enhance crop yield for both the Yala and Maha seasons.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe had forewarned about an impending global food crisis. Consequently, he held discussions with the Indian Government to secure the required fertilizer for the Maha season. It was only due to his personal intervention that we were able to obtain the necessary fertilizer from India.

 As a result of his efforts, we were successful in providing the necessary urea fertilizer for the Maha season, and we even distributed the stock received from the Chinese Government to farmers, free of charge. This enabled us to achieve our target harvest during the Maha season, and we were able to produce 3.3 million metric tons of rice. In gratitude for this success, we offer our gratitude at the Sacred Sri Maha Bodhiya. Moreover, we have been advised by the President to reach out to farmers and provide them with relief instead of requiring them to come to our offices.

We are currently developing a QR code system for farmers to provide them with relevant allowances and subsidies seamlessly. Additionally, we have already discussed reducing the price of herbicides by 10% in the future. We are also exploring the possibility of introducing a third season for cultivation, in addition to the current Yala and Maha seasons. The third season has already commenced in the Hambantota district, where it is being cultivated as an alternative crop, rather than paddy. We encourage farmers from other districts to apply for this third season as well.

We are also planning to incorporate modern technology into agriculture. Our goal is to transition crops that traditionally required 2.5 acres to grow to a more modern, efficient system that can be achieved in just half an acre of land.

We have successfully promoted the cultivation of sour bananas as an export crop, and we are currently exporting one container of sour bananas every Saturday. We aim to increase this export volume to two containers by next month.

The President has allocated a total of 56,000 million rupees towards the development of the agriculture industry. This presents an opportunity to modernize the industry and introduce new technologies. In the past, we used to rely on credit to obtain fertilizer, but the President has taken steps to pay off this debt. With these efforts, we aim to establish agriculture as a major economic foundation for our country. We are all committed to achieving this goal.

Chancellor of the Rajarata University,  Ruwanweli Chaityaramadhipathi Venerable Ethalavetunu Weve Gnanathilaka Thera, The Maha Sangha, including the Chief incumbent of the Lankarama Viharaya Venerable  Ralapanawe Dhammajothi, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Ports and Shipping Nimal Siripala de Silva, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, Member of Parliament SM Chandrasena, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Staff to the President, Sagala Ratnayake, Governor of North Central Province Mahipala Herath and other officials attended this event.


SL President advocates bold climate action at COP28




In a compelling address at the 28th session of the Conference of Parties (CoP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Dubai, UAE today (01), President Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged the historical significance of the UN Conference on Human Environment, emphasizing its goal to defend and improve the environment for present and future generations. 

He referenced the alarming findings of the UNEP Report of 2023, titled “Broken Promises,” which warns of a 3-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures by the end of the century.

Highlighting the challenges faced by developing countries, President Wickremesinghe stressed the disproportionate vulnerability and impact due to lower adaptive capacities in Finance, Technology, and Climate investments. He cited the Independent High-Level Expert Group Report on Climate Finance, which underscored the need for at least a US$ Trillion per annum to combat climate change.

The President commended the Government of the United Arab Emirates for hosting the crucial event and expressed gratitude for their warm hospitality.

Expressing concern about the lack of concrete measures in the Transitional Committee’s report on funding arrangements, the President called for a more transparent approach, particularly addressing issues of global debt relief. He questioned the wisdom of avoiding contentious issues, emphasizing the urgency of the climate crisis.

President Wickremesinghe advocated for climate justice accessible to all nations and proposed a resolution for a Climate Justice Forum. This forum, agreed upon at the 5th Forum of the Ministers of Environmental Authorities of Asia Pacific, aims to provide a platform for constructive and proactive engagements, with the proposal scheduled for the UN Environment Assembly on 6th February 2024.

Underlining the critical nature of the current period, the President urged immediate action to find effective solutions, thinking outside the box and investing in the Tropical Belt to tackle the Triple Planetary Crisis. The Tropical Belt, covering 134 countries and 44% of the Earth’s surface, holds rich biodiversity and potential for renewable energy. President Wickremesinghe announced plans for a panel to report on the Tropical Belt Initiative, emphasizing its global impact.

As the current Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), President Wickremesinghe linked the health of the Indian Ocean to climate change. He stressed the need for a sustainable Blue Economy to counter the adverse effects of rising sea levels, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and extreme weather patterns.

President Wickremesinghe also revealed plans to establish the International Climate Change University (ICCU) for capacity building and advancing research, operationalizing it next year. The ICCU aims to contribute significantly to global efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In conclusion, President Wickremesinghe’s address at COP28 outlined a comprehensive approach, blending regional initiatives like the Tropical Belt and the Indian Ocean with global measures, reflecting Sri Lanka’s commitment to climate action and leadership on the international stage.

The speech made by the President at the World Leaders Summit of the COP28 is follows;

“Chairperson, Excellencies, Esteemed Delegates, At the outset let me congratulate his highness and the Government of the United Arab Emirates for hosting COP28 and extend to you my gratitude for your warm hospitality. 

The UNEP Report of 2023 “Broken Promises” warned that we are facing a 3 degree Celcius increase in global temperatures by the end of the century. It is we; the developing countries are both disproportionately vulnerable and disproportionately impacted due to their lower adaptive capacity when it comes to investments in Finance, Technology and Climate. 

The Independent High-Level Expert Group Report on Climate Finance highlighted that at least a Trillion USD per annum is required to combat climate change. The Transitional Committee on the Operationalization of Funding Arrangements in its Report of 4th November 2023 only calls for voluntary contributions to the “Loss and Damage fund”. The Report makes no mention of the funds needed or who the contributors are. It is silent on the issue of global debt relief. These are interconnected’

Nevertheless, four days later, the Technical Dialogue of the First Global Stocktake highlighted the requirements of a minimum of US$ trillion per annum. To arrive at a consensus not to take up a contentious issue is not a solution. Who are we fooling?

Climate justice must be available to all the people and all the countries. In this background, Sri Lanka will propose a resolution for a Climate Justice Forum which was agreed upon at the 5th Forum of the Ministers of Environmental Authorities of Asia Pacific to be moved at the UN Environment Assembly of 6th February 2024.

The Climate Justice Forum will provide us a platform for constructive and proactive engagements. The Secretary General of the UN highlighted, “The era of global boiling has arrived”. The enemy is at the gates. We are still procrastinating. We are still forming our battalions to take the fight to the enemy. Therefore, this fortnight is critical.

It will determine whether we are capable of providing a leadership. Let us prove we can do so by action and delivery.

Sri Lanka is committed to the 1.5 degree Celcius limit. We are facing a drastic situation to await the disaster. We must think outside of the box. We must Invest in the Tropical Belt to tackle the Triple Planetary Crisis. 

The Tropical Belt constitutes 134 countries covering 44% of earth’s surface, and will by 2030s be home to roughly 50% of world’s population. Most of the world’s remaining primary forests are tropical, along with its coral reef systems. The rich biodiversity of the Tropical Belt enhances biological carbon sequestration and can shield the world from instabilities in weather.

Furthermore, the energy generation potential from solar, wind and biomass are significantly higher in the tropics than that of other areas on the earth. Yet, anthropogenic activities in the Tropical Belt can easily lead to an imbalance in the equilibrium of this region.

So much so that some scientists predict that the Tropical Rain Belt could shift away from the Equator by the 22nd Century. Large scale investments in Renewable Energy, Pollution Control and Nature-based Solutions will lead to significant transformative changes in the entire world by enhancing carbon sequestration. 

Therefore, Sri Lanka and other concerned countries will convene a panel to report on the Tropical Belt Initiative. A multi sector plan distributed not only among the whole tropical region but the whole world. As the current Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Sri Lanka is focusing on the interdependence between the Indian Ocean and climate change. 

A healthy ocean generates oxygen and absorbs the carbon and heat produced from global warming. Mangroves and sea grasses sink more carbon than land forests.  However, the rapid climate change is altering the marine environment with rising sea levels and temperatures, Ocean acidification, coral bleaching, habitat destruction and extreme weather patterns. These phenomenon have a direct impact on human lives by disrupting ocean biodiversity, the Ocean dependent food patterns, and coastal livelihoods. Member states and partners of IORA will work towards ensuring a sustainable, Indian Ocean for future generations. 

The Tropical Belt initiative and the Indian Ocean IORA program combined will form the largest global sink for carbon sequestration.  Addressing the climate change need, up to date scientific knowledge, and the effective use of these findings 

Therefore, at COP27, I proposed to establish an International Climate Change University (ICCU) for capacity building and advancing research, necessary to contribute to the crucial efforts to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We will be operationalizing the International Climate Change University (ICCU) next year. 

Ministers Mr. Ali Sabry, Mr. Keheliya Rambukwella, Mr. Kanchana Wijesekera, and Member of Parliament Mr. Madhura Withana represented the government, while Members of Parliament Mr. Champika Ranawaka and Mr. Ajith Mannapperuma represented the Opposition. Additionally, Senior Adviser to the President on Climate Change Mr. Ruwan Wijewardena, Secretary of the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Director of International Affairs Mr. Dinouk Colomboge, Adviser to the Ministry of Finance Mr. Deshal De Mel, and President’s Private Secretary Ms. Sandra Perera were also present on this occasion.

(President’s media Division)

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Financial scheme for underprivileged students at Jaffna Uni.




The Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka – Mr. Gopal Baglay today (Dec. 01) rolled out a new financial scheme for the underprivileged students at the University of Jaffna.

The scheme was rolled out in the presence of the university’s Vice Chancellor Professor S. Srisatkunarajah, Deans of Faculties and beneficiary students and Rs. 03 million was ceremoniously handed over for the cause.

He also handed over offer letters to visit India under the Knowledge India Visitors Program organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to two Professors of the University.

The Indian High Commissioner as well as several officials are currently on a visit to Jaffna.

(Pics : X feed of Indian HC)

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Construction Field Skills Test opens new work opportunities in Japan




A new skills test in the field of construction has been newly introduced today (Dec. 01) in Sri Lanka for working in Japan as specified skilled workers (SSW).

The announcement was made during a joint press briefing today, attended by the Japanese ambassador to Sri Lanka – Mr. Mizukoshi Hideaki, Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment – Manusha Nanayakkara and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment – Mr. A. A. M. Hilme.

Together with the skills tests in Nursing Care, Food Service and Agriculture, which have already been in place since last year, skills tests in four fields will be available in Sri Lanka.

 In his remarks, Ambassador Mizukoshi expressed his sincere hope that as many talented Sri Lankans as possible will take this new opportunity to work in Japan, contributing not only to the development of Japan’s construction sector but also to Sri Lanka’s foreign currency acquisition. He welcomed the rapid expansion of enthusiasm for learning Japanese, triggered by the beginning of the test for SSW in Sri Lanka last year and explained measures to support Japanese language education in Sri Lanka. He also reiterated the Government of Japan’s strong commitment to provide continuous support for the people of Sri Lanka and to further deepen our long-standing friendship with Sri Lanka. 

More information on the registration can be accessed at , the website of Prometric, which conducts the tests for SSW. 

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