Govt. to purchase vegetables and fruits from farmers, process them and store them using post harvest technology
By Sandun A. Jayasekera
While vegetable and fruit growers struggle hard to sell their produces at economic centres, Mahaweli, Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development Minister Chamal Rajapaksa said all economic centres would be opened in the next few days.
Minister Rajapaksa told Daily Mirror yesterday that the government would also purchase vegetables and fruits from farmers, process them and store them using the post harvest technology and release to the market when fruits and vegetables are in short supply.
The Presidential Task Force for Food Security headed by Presidential advisor and former Minister Basil Rajapaksa had promised to provide cold storage facilities to process and store vegetables and fruits during the time farmers harvest vegetables and fruits, he added.
A third party will not be involved in this exercise and both the farmer and the consumer would benefit
“We expect to purchase vegetables and fruits from farmers directly through Agro Products Assistants (APAs) attached to Divisional Secretariats. Transportation and distribution would be arranged under a permit issued by the respective Divisional Secretaries. A third party will not be involved in this exercise and as such both the farmer and the consumer would benefit. Necessary funds for the purpose would be provided by the Cooperative Fund,” Minister Rajapaksa added.
The Minister noted that in a bid to prevent shortage or black marketing in rice, the government had fixed a maximum price for Keeri Samba at Rs. 125 per kilogram, red samba at Rs. 90 a kilogram, white and red raw samba at Rs. 90 per kilogram and white raw kekulu rice at Rs. 85 per kilogram and Nadu, boiled or steamed at Rs. 90 a kilogram.
If any trader sells these rice varieties at more than the fixed price, lodge a complaint to the telephone hotline 011 3456 200 or send a fax to 011 23333066 / 0114354882.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Traders Organisation of the Dambulla Dedicated Economic Center (DDEC), Channa Arawwala said farmers continue to bring their produce to the DDEC and they had brought vegetables and fruit in large stocks yesterday as well.
Farmers have no option other than bringing them here after they harvest their produce though the economic centre is closed. They sell vegetables and fruits on roads connecting with the economic centre like Kandalama Road, Vihara Junction and Gam Udawa Grounds. It is sad to witness that they sell their produce at cheap prices because the price is determined not by them but by buyers of their produce. The Mudalalis also weigh their produce low and pay only the price of 30 kilograms for a bag of 40 kilograms as farmers don’t have scales and balances,”
Mr. Arawwala said.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Task Force for Food Security yesterday started purchasing large stocks of produce at Ratnapura and Hambantota Districts directly from farmers via APAs. They will be transported to Colombo and other parts of the country by the Sri Lanka Army.