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Ceylon (Indian Corn)

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 7 May 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if, in view of the scarcity of poultry food in Europe and of the fact that less than half the land of Ceylon is cultivated, he will consider, with the Ceylon Government, the plantation of large tracts of uninhabitated Crown land in the north and east one monsoon zone, now generally growing trees and scrub of no value even as firewood, with Indian corn, before the next monsoon breaks, the British Gvernment guaranteeing purchase of the corn at a good price f.o.b. Colombo.

Ceylon is seriously short of food herself, and the Ceylon Government are already doing their utmost to increase the island's production of foodstuffs for her own needs. Large areas of land have been brought into cultivation for this purpose, but sufficiency is not in sight. In these circumstances, I fear there is little chance at present of her being able to grow poultry food for Europe.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the Government of Ceylon have taken a hand in this matter, or whether they have merely suggested to the cultivators that they should cultivate here and there?

Is it not a fact that the Ceylon Government, at the suggestion of the Prime Minister, Mr. Senanayake, have been breaking up a large amount of jungle land and clearing it in order to grow food for the Ceylon population?