At a discussion held over the issue of pepper prices today, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the target of the next year should be to receive higher prices for the pepper productions by adding value to Sri Lankan pepper exports.
The discussion was held at the Presidential Secretariat to review actions that need to be taken to find a long-term solution pertaining to the pepper price, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.
It said price of pepper per kilo gram stood between Rs. 1,500-1,300 prior to 2015. However, it had now come down to Rs. 450-500. The price of raw pepper per kilo is between Rs.150-175.
During recent visits by President Rajapaksa to several districts, farmers requested him to safeguard the cultivators by taking measures to increase the pepper price, the PMD said.
It said the demand is high for Sri Lankan pepper in the world market and India buys around 75% of Sri Lankan pepper exports.
The PMD said, in recent years, low quality pepper from Vietnam had been imported, mixed with locally grown pepper and re-exported to the world market.
In this context, the demand for pepper in countries including India has decreased drastically.
President Rajapaksa said the importation of pepper was halted completely after he assumed duties as the President.
“As a result of this step, the atmosphere has been created to export high quality pepper. We should win the foreign market by appraising the buyer countries through all the diplomatic missions,” he said.
The attention was drawn to increase quota for pepper following consultations with India. The President pointed out that our key strategy should be to supply pepper as a value-added product to the world market.
It was discussed in detail how to increase the demand for pepper worldwide, by encouraging new exporters and the development of post-harvest techniques.
The President instructed the institutes led by the Ministry of Agriculture to jointly plan necessary steps for drying, sterilization and setting up of processing centres at district level to add more value to pepper. It has also decided to allocate funds for equipment from the next budget.
The President also advised the officials to take steps to encourage farmers towards pepper cultivation and to provide required knowledge to them.
President Rajapaksa emphasized that the end result of all the decisions should be to ensure maximum price for the pepper harvest.
The President pointed out that our key strategy should be to supply pepper as a value-added product to the world market.
President’s Secretary P.B. Jayasundera, Finance Ministry Secretary S.R. Attygalle, Ministry of Agriculture Secretary Major General (retd) Sumedha Perera, Secretary to the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Export Agriculture, Ravindra Hewavitharana, Secretary to the Ministry of Industrial Export and Investment Promotion, M.P.D.U. K. Mapa Pathirana, Secretary to the Ministry of Industries J.A. Ranjith, pepper exporters and officials participated in the meeting. (Lahiru Pothmulla)