|Friday, 24 January 2003|
Plantation Industries Minister Lakshman Kiriella said his ministry has not received an encouraging response from the CWE and the co-operative unions towards its efforts to provide coconuts at a fair price to consumers.
His ministry had the potential to issue one million nuts to the local market every month but it is baffling why these two institutions do not take measures to purchase these nuts from ministry estates and sell them to the public at a fair price.
Minister Kiriella said he always tried to make coconut available at a reasonable price as it is a very essential consumer item. He said coconut has always remained at around Rs. 10 per nut even during the war situation in the North. Had there been a similar war situation in the South, coconut could not have been obtained even at Rs. 50 per nut.
He said the country today produced enough coconuts to meet the local demand. Every effort was being made by his ministry to expand coconut cultivation further. Today his ministry has earned public acclaim for deploying coconut cultivation board's lorries for a mobile marketing service to sell coconuts at Rs. 13.50. This had greatly helped to bring down prices of coconut in the open market. The CWE and the co-operative unions should take a keener interest in this programme if they were to bring more benefits to the consumers.
Minister Kiriella made these observations at a meeting held at Purana Pothgul Viharaya, Illadora, Kadugannawa on Monday to mark the launching of his ministry's development programmes in the Yatinuwara electorate. The programme included the issuing of financial subsidies to tea smallholdings, distribution of agricultural equipment for cultivation purposes and coconut seedlings for home gardening. Cheques to worth Rs. 100,000 were presented to 31 smallholders while agricultural equipment and coconut seedlings were distributed among 30 persons at functions held at the Danture Viharaya, Sunilagama Viharaya in Muruthalawa and the Heerassagala Piriven Viharaya.
Minister Kiriella said following the silencing of guns in the North the people in the North too have come forward to develop coconut cultivation in their region. His ministry has drawn up programmes to develop the coconut industry in the North too. Sri Lanka has made significant achievements in the tea and rubber sector as well in recent times. The harvest of tea had reached a record 380 million kilos last year.
Produced by Lake House