Govt. tags guaranteed price for potato, big onion and dried chillie
Thursday, 27 March 2014 01:39
The implementation of guaranteed price for potato, big onion and dried chillie will kick off this week in furtherance of the proposal in the Government’s 2014 Budget.
The official ceremony of signing the ‘Forward Sales Agreement’ between Lak Sathosa and selected potato farmers has been scheduled to be held tomorrow, 28 March, at 10 a.m. at Randora Auditorium of the Ministry of Finance and Planning. Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa will participate as the Chief Guest of the ceremony.
To boost farmer income, the Government has introduced guaranteed price for potato, big onion and dry chillie crops. The guaranteed producer prices that have been established are one kg of potato Rs. 80, one kg of big onion Rs. 60 and one kg of dry chillie Rs. 350 under the scheme. Further, the guaranteed produce price of one kg of seed potato has been established as Rs. 160 and the guaranteed produce price of one kg big onion seed has been established as Rs. 12,000, in order to encourage seed producers.
The Ministry of Finance said with the target of 10% growth in the agriculture sector, the Government aims at achieving national food security, ensuring a reasonable price for agricultural products and creating uninterrupted access to competitive markets both in Sri Lanka and abroad for value-added agricultural products.
Further action is required in terms of expanding the extent under cultivation, using high yielding seeds, utilising an efficient water management system, reducing wastage in transport and producing modern storage facilities to meet the above targets.
The Government development expectation is a transformation from a net food importing economy to a net food exporting economy by exceeding self-sufficiency in grains such as green gram, cowpea and soya beans in addition to rice, maize, black gram and production of chicken and eggs.
The importation of these three main food crops of potato, big onion and dry chillie due to the local production not being sufficient to meet the country’s total consumption results in the spending of a huge amount of foreign exchange. In 2013, the expenditure incurred in importing these commodities amounted to Rs. 19.14 billion.
The Government anticipates reaching 50% self sufficiency in potato, big onion and dry chillie production by 2015 and, while targeting the transfer from a net food importing economy to a net food exporting economy, hopes to reach the export market by exporting surplus production by 2020.
This will enable the tripling of the income of farmers who cultivate those crops and save foreign exchange of approximately US$ 148 million, which is annually spent in importing these three commodities.
“To reach the above targets, priority should be given to solve the main issues that discourage farmers – not receiving a reasonable price for agricultural products, shortage in quality seeds/planting materials, and the high price of those items,” the Finance Ministry said in support of the guaranteed price scheme.