Govt. imports spuds; 40,000 farmers left in the lurch


by Zacki Jabbar

Around 40,000 farmers were in trouble as the government had permitted potato imports, the UNP said yesterday.

Harin Fernando, MP, told The Island that while allowing a free flow of potatoes into the country, the authorities had also directed the farmers not to sell their produce below Rs.75 a kilo, but people were not buying potatoes at such prices.

When the farmers’ assistants were included, over 75,000 persons in Bandaragama, Uva Parnagama, Welimada, Bandarawela and Nuwara Eliya had been affected due to the sudden import shock that had been administered, MP Fernando said.

The irony of the whole situation, the MP observed, was that most of the affected persons were those who had voted for the ‘Betel Leaf’; they were now wondering where their next meal would come from, with less than two weeks to go for the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

MP Fernando noted that paddy and vegetable growers were also unable to dispose of their harvests, since the government was not paying them the guaranteed prices.

The Rajapaksa regime had not only failed to honour its pledges but was also insulting public servants. It was only recently that the Wild Life Minister Wijithamuni Soysa had described health sector workers as being good at only carrying medicines around and sleeping. However, he had forgotten that many of those referred to, had been recruited during the time Nimal Sripala de Silva was the Health Minister, Fernando said.

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