July 20, Colombo: President Gotabaya Rajapaksa presided a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat today (20) to review actions that need to be taken to find a long-term solution to the falling pepper prices.
Before 2015 price of pepper per kilo gram stood between Rs. 1,500-1,300. However, it had now come down to Rs. 450-500. The price of raw pepper per kilo is between Rs.150-175.
During President Rajapaksa’s recent visits to several districts, farmers have requested him to safeguard the cultivators by taking measures to increase the pepper price, the President’s Media Division said.
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 my assumption to 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 apprising the buyer countries through all the diplomatic missions,” President underscored during the discussion.
The attention was drawn to increase quota for pepper following consultations with India. The President pointed out that the key strategy should be to supply pepper as a value-added product to the world market.
Ways to increase the demand for pepper worldwide, by encouraging new exporters and the development of post-harvest techniques were also discussed today.
President Rajapaksa instructed the institutes led by the Ministry of Agriculture to jointly plan necessary steps for drying, sterilization and setting up of processing centers at district level to add more value to pepper. It has also decided to allocate funds for equipment from the next budget.
President also advised the officials to take steps to encourage farmers towards pepper cultivation and to provide required knowledge to them.
President Rajapaksa emphasized that the end result of all the decisions should be to ensure 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, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance, S.R. Attygalle, Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Major General (retd) Sumedha Perera, Secretary to the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Export Agriculture, Ravindra Hewavitharana, Secretary to the Ministry of Industrial Export and Investment Promotion, M.P.D.U. K. Mapa Pathirana, Secretary to the Ministry of Industries J.A. Ranjith, pepper exporters and officials participated in this meeting.