The Sunday Leader

Farmers Facing A Dilemma

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

The farmers of this country have once again had to face difficulties. The pepper farmers are facing numerous difficulties while the poultry farmers and even the milk farmers are all in the same boat and both the farmers and farmer associations charge that nothing is being done to relieve them of this plight.

This season the pepper farmers have harvested a bountiful harvest of pepper but their dilemma now is that they have no way of selling their harvest. This has put the pepper farmers in a precarious state as they have no way of disposing of their stocks of pepper. The government on the other hand has taken several initiatives to uplift the living standards of these pepper farmers so far. The government has paved the way for pepper farmers to export their harvest and for the first time, the government had also initiated a programme to purchase the pepper stocks from the farmers.

Accordingly, the Minister of Primary Industries Daya Gamage said the government would purchase a kilo of pepper from farmers at a certified price of Rs. 950.00. However, despite the promises made by the government, so far the farmers have not been able to sell their stocks of pepper, which has put them into deep trouble.

Pepper grown extensively in Uwa Paranagama and Wellawaya,   is therefore being wasted and is being destroyed as the farmers are unable to sell their harvest. The farmers lament that a bountiful harvest is only obtained once in two years and it is a crime that this bountiful harvest is just allowed to go to waste. The farmers say that as the government has failed them, they will have no choice but to commit suicide, if they are unable to dispose of their stocks of pepper and reap profits. The government has failed to keep to their promise and purchase the pepper stocks at the stipulated price so far, which has caused great distress to the pepper farmers, they lament.

Meanwhile, the President of the All Ceylon Farmers Federation, Namal Karunaratne said as the government has once again failed the farmers, it is time to get onto the streets to fight for the rights of the farmers once again. He warned that the farmers are now planning protests and agitations once again. However, Namal Karunaratne said that when farmers stage their protests the government  immediately brings them to the discussion table, but all promises made so far have been nothing but empty promises that were limited to just words alone. So far despite the many promises made to the farmers promising them many solutions to their grievances, the government has failed to implement any of these promises. Similarly, nothing has been done to resolve the issues faced by the milk farmers either. Over the recent past this issue has been discussed extensively and the problems faced by the milk farmers were highlighted rather extensively. Yet all these have fallen on the government’s deaf ears.

Adding to their grievances, there have been environmental issues too that have arisen as a result of waste being discharged into the water in Welimada by Milco, said Karunaratne. He said several protests are being planned against the environmental pollution caused by Milco as well.

The other group of farmers facing difficulties are the poultry farmers. Currently the price of chicken has reduced while the production cost per kilo of chicken is around 190.

Although the retailer sells chicken to consumers at a higher price, the farmers are the losers as the intermediate businessmen purchase the chicken from the farmers at a lower price.   The price per kilo of chicken earlier was at Rs. 230. The farmers purchase a bag of chicken feed at Rs. 5650. Generally to feed a poultry stock of around 1,000 birds these farmers need around 70 bags of poultry feed which is a huge expense to the poultry farmer.

Not just the poultry feed, the farmer has other expenses too related to the maintaining of a poultry farm. Therefore, the poultry farmers are facing grave hardships at present due to the costs escalating while the profits dwindle.

Therefore, Namal karunaratne said taking all these issues into consideration, if the government fails to come up with a viable solution to the problems faced by the farmers, they would be forced to take stern action and take to the streets in order to attract the attention of the government to the grievances of these poor farmers.

3 Comments for “Farmers Facing A Dilemma”

  1. However the plans may be the best, the ultimate implementation is what matters. Corruption , fraud and bribes maybe the order of the day. There may be the possibility that the problem s over-dramatized in certain instances. However, the private sector has also a responsibility in their own interest to see that the spice industry functions well devoid of all the intrigue.

    • Kumaran

      The farmers, dairy farmers, cultivators are all threatened by wild animals and birds who eat as our Presdent says, 1/3rd the crop! This is so true. Birds like teal, wild duck, parrots and pigeons whose population was controlled by shooting has now multiplied and they are also very bold. It is the same situation with wild boar and monkeys. The nation suffers but wild animals thrive. What utter stupidity!!

  2. DO SOMETHING President Sirisena!

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