- Additional provisions to be included in forthcoming Budget
- Long-term solutions urged
- Measures to explore new market opportunities
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday backed a multi-pronged effort to boost prices of pepper exports including setting up district level processing centres, allocating funds for equipment from the next Budget and seeking new markets for Sri Lankan pepper products.
President instructed the institutes led by the Ministry of Agriculture to jointly plan necessary steps for drying, sterilisation 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’s Media Division (PMD) said in a statement yesterday.
President also advised the officials to take steps to encourage farmers towards pepper cultivation and to provide required knowledge to them.
Before 2015 the price of pepper per kilogram stood between Rs. 1,500-1,300 but has now come down to Rs. 450-500, while the price of raw pepper per kilo has plummeted to Rs. 150-175.
During recent visits by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to several districts, farmers requested him to safeguard the cultivators by taking measures to increase the pepper price.
A discussion was held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday to review actions that need to be taken to find a long-term solution pertaining to the pepper price.
Sri Lanka is among the world’s best pepper producers. The demand is high for Sri Lankan pepper in the world market. India buys around 75% of Sri Lankan pepper exports. There is a high demand from America and European countries as well.
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.
“After I took office the importation of pepper was halted completely. As a result of this step yet again the environment has been created to export high quality pepper. We should win the foreign market by appraising the buyer countries through all the diplomatic missions,” President stressed.
Attention was drawn to increase quota for pepper following consultations with India. The President pointed out that Sri Lanka’s 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.
President Rajapaksa emphasised that the end result of all the decisions should be to ensure a maximum price for the pepper harvest. The President giving advice to implement all the decisions immediately said that the target of the next year should be to receive higher prices for the pepper productions.
Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Ministry of Finance Secretary S.R. Attygalle, Ministry of Agriculture Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Sumedha Perera, Ministry of Plantation Industries and Export Agriculture Secretary Ravindra Hewavitharana, Ministry of Industrial Export and Investment Promotion Secretary M.P.D.U.K. Mapa Pathirana, Ministry of Industries Secretary J.A. Ranjith, pepper exporters and officials participated in this meeting.