- Write to President and PM requesting their assistance
- Say willing to make Rs.100mn donation to boost local production
- Point out shipment release will allow them to pay Rs.100mn in duty
- Say stand ready to buy locally grown turmeric
By Yohan Perera
Leading turmeric importers in the country in a letter addressed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had requested their assistance in releasing one million kilogramme of turmeric already imported to the country and lying at the Colombo port.
“Since the shipping demurrage is accumulating on a daily basis, we urge the government to help us to get these consignments released.
In the event, when these get released, we turmeric importers, are willing to make a donation of Rs.100 million to the local farmers in order to boost the production of turmeric. At the same time, we are willing to purchase locally grown turmeric as well,” the letter read.
The letter was signed by the directors of five leading importers namely P.S.A. Import Company (Pvt.) Limited, Ranittha Traders, SKT Traders Private Ltd, Sana Lanka Trading and Woodlands Company.
The letter pointed out that the release of the shipments would have no effect on the local turmeric farmer, as it will allow only 200 grams of turmeric for consumption purposes for each of the five million households in Sri Lanka, which is sufficient only for up to two weeks.
The letter also said the release of shipments would enable the importers to pay Rs.100 million in duty to the government.
The letter further cautioned that the ban of turmeric imports has led to illegal imports and a kilo of turmeric is now sold at Rs.4,500 in the black market.
“This is currently happening everywhere in Sri Lanka, while there is a marked price for Rs.750. Therefore, people are forced to buy it at a very high price in the market. Releasing these consignments will enable us to sell them for government marked price and will be supportive for consumers as well,” the letter noted.
Sri Lanka’s dry turmeric demand is about 5,500 metric tonnes per annum. According to government data, Sri Lanka produced 400 metric tonnes of dry turmeric last year.
Turmeric is a 10-month crop and after the harvest, it takes another two months to process and dry, to get the final product. Currently, the country has no turmeric and the new crop season started in May/June 2020.