vSteps to purchase products directly from the farmers through the Department of Agriculture
vCoordinating Agrarian Service Centers and District Secretaries and Farmer Organizations
vHigh profits yield by inter-middlemen are unfair to the farmers, consumers and retailers
vSpecial circular to stop use of reserved shops in Dedicated Economic Centers for other trades by January
President Gotabhaya Rajapaksha having considered the prevailing price condition has instructed the Ministry of Agriculture including all the relevant institutions attached to it to take immediate action to control the unjustly increasing prices in vegetables and fruits. Accordingly, it has been planned to provide the products purchased directly from farmers to Dedicated Economic Centers at Meegoda, Narahenpita and Welisara as a pilot program through an active mechanism implemented by the Department of Agriculture. Minister of Agriculture Mahindananda Aluthgamage today held a special discussion in this regard with the business community at Dedicated Economic Center of Narahenpita. The Minister informed the business community that the new program will be implemented in collaboration with the District Secretaries of Nuwara Eliya, Badulla and Anuradhapura and their subordinates as well as farmer organizations in the relevant districts. Also, the government would take necessary steps to sell the products purchased in coordination with the Agrarian Service Centers and officials to the traders of the relevant Dedicated Economic Centers at reasonable prices in secure packaging.Mr. Mahindananda Aluthgamage emphasized that the relevant traders should sell these products to the consumers in a very reasonable price gap and display the relevant prices. The Minister also pointed out that the government will take the responsibility of transportation of these fruits and vegetables in standard plastic containers where the possible damage could be prevented during their transportation. Mr. Mahindananda Aluthgamage said that business community maintain a high price gap accusing that the vegetables and fruits are damaged and as now such facility being given to the farmers to prevent such damage, and therefore asked not to do so. The business community of the companies stated that they fully agree with the government's plan. The Minister also informed the business community that the tenders who got the stalls at the Dedicated Economic Centers through tender procedure give such stalls to other parties under sub-rent and thereby it would cost a large sum of money per day and it also would adding to the prices of vegetables and fruits. The Minister promised to regularize this malpractice from next January.The Minister instructed the Ministry officials to issue circulars in the first week of January which prevents sub leasing the shops obtained at the Dedicated Economic Centers to other trades by those who got such shops. The traders further made a complaint to the Minister that vegetables and fruits were being sold in the shops reserved for other trades during the Corona season. The Minister therefore instructed the management of the Dedicated Economic Center at Narahenpita to immediately inform in writing that these shops be used for the relevant trade. The Minister said that the huge profits received by intermediates putting the innocent traders into suffer should be immediately stopped and asked the business community to extend their cooperation to that effect.
Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage pointed out that the government had carried a work plan for several days during Covid pandemic situation for setting up product collection centers and offering them to the traders and it was successful. The Minister further said that though the government had carried out production process by providing all aids the justice is not done to the public, and hence this program is implemented with a view to fulfill the justice. The Minister informed the business community at Dedicated Economic Center of Narahenpita that the new program would enable the people to gather into such centers to purchase vegetables and fruits at cheaper rates and thereby the government would try to stop the intermediary black market trade. The Ministermoreover said that major rice producers, fisheries corporations, meat and egg traders would also be deployed in the economic centers in this manner. He further added that necessary action will be taken to issue relevant circulars which direct the parties concerned to carry out business at those economic centers under controlled price and display price lists.
The Minister emphasized that although the government had brought the concept of an economic hub for the people for the purpose of buying essential commodities for them at concessionary rates, the middlemen mafia also involved in the scam and the government would issue circulars to change it completely by the first week of January. The Trade Fellowship of the Economic Center agreed to the request made by the Minister to implement this program at the Dedicated Economic Center of Narahenpita as a one week pilot project while maintaining the retail profit of Rs. 20 per kilogram provided by the Government at a wholesale profit of Rs. 10 per kilogram. The Minister urges consumers to come to such Dedicated Economic Centers to buy the best products at reasonable prices under the new program.
Secretary to the State Ministry of Paddy and Grains, Organic Foods, Vegetables, Fruits, Chillies, Onion and Potatoes Cultivation Promotion, Seed Production and High Technology Mr. L.L.A. Wijesiri and other officials of the Ministry and the Trade Community of the Dedicated Economic Center of Narahenpita participated in this event.
Meanwhile, journalists questioned the Minister about the re-emergence of Sena Caterpillar menace in several districts of the country. The Minister in his responding said that the government has already intervened and that the agricultural authorities visit the relevant districts to inquire into the situation and that the necessary pesticides will be provided within the next few days. Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage also stated that the government has taken steps to pay compensation to the farmers who have been severely affected by the Sena Caterpillar menace.