Govt. to step up turmeric production | Daily News


 

Smuggling on the rise amid import ban:

Govt. to step up turmeric production

Several attempts to smuggle turmeric were foiled by the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) over the past week as the government continued to hold onto its decision to ban the import of the spice to promote local production.

SLN in a press release last week stated that the Sri Lanka Coast Guard seized about 1058kg of dried turmeric being smuggled into the country in the estuary of Deduru Oya, Chilaw.

During a special patrol in the estuary of Deduru Oya, Sri Lanka Coast Guard found the consignment stuffed in 21 gunny sacks, after inspecting a suspicious dinghy at the location. The stock of dried turmeric and the dinghy will be handed over to the Customs Office of Sinnapadu for further investigation in keeping with health guidelines of the global pandemic. Operations are currently underway in search of the suspects.

In a separate incident, Naval operations led to the seizure of an 818kg consignment of dried turmeric being smuggled into the country by sea and apprehension of two suspects on Wednesday (16). During a special operation, the North Central Naval Command nabbed two suspects who were attempting to smuggle around 510kg of dried turmeric by a dinghy north of Mannar. The consignment had been stuffed in 12 sacks as they were recovered by naval personnel.

In another special operation conducted at Vankalai in Mannar, the Navy seized about 308kg of dried turmeric in five delivery sacks, left behind at the Vankalai beach. The suspects held in connection with the racket were identified as residents of Palleimunai, Mannar, aged 26 and 37. They were handed over to the Public Health Inspector of Talaimannar for quarantine. The seized consignments had been disinfected to comply with Covid-19 guidelines and they will be handed over to the Jaffna Customs Office for further investigations, the SLN stated.

SLN apprehended three suspects with over 520kg of dried turmeric attempted to be smuggled into the island in another special operation conducted in the sea of Mundalampiddi, Mannar on Wednesday. SLN stated that over 520kg of dried turmeric stuffed in 12 gunny bags were held by the North Central Naval Command as the suspects were attempting to transfer the consignment by a traditional boat (Wallam) in above sea area.

The suspects who are between 22 to 55 years of age were identified as residents of Palleimunai in Mannar. They were produced before the Adampan Medical Officer of Health for inspection. The seized stock of dried turmeric and the boat had been disinfected to comply with Covid -19 guidelines and they will be handed over to the Jaffna Customs Office for further investigations.

Turmeric smuggling was rampant since the government banned its import in December last year.

The attempt to aid small and medium businesses and growers caused turmeric prices to sky-rocket, and in some cases left adulterated turmeric to enter the local market. However, since then the situation has improved as growers were encouraged to increase the yield. The government said it will continue the import ban.

Minister of Plantations Ramesh Pathirana told media that the country can produce at least 4,000 metric tones of turmeric. This is over half the requirement for local consumption. The Consumer Affairs Authority has stepped in to impose a maximum retail price of Rs. 750 per kg of turmeric.

During an official visit to Maha Nanneriya in the Kurunegala District, on September 7, Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa instructed agriculture sector officers to take steps to produce turmeric for the local consumption and maintain a fixed price.

He said that due to the growing demand for turmeric a kilo is sold at a price between Rs. 4,000 to Rs 5,000.

“Some question as to why we do not import turmeric. If we permit imports the traders will import in excess, store them and release to the local market later, which will result in discouraging the local producers,” he said adding that the Government has taken steps to build a self-sufficient economy.

“It is my belief that Sri Lanka could be made a vibrant economy in Asia,” he said. Minister of Trade Dr. Bandula Gunawardena said the government may ease restrictions for re-export. This decision was made following discussions with local businessmen.