Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen has directed provincial council authorities to take immiediate steps to assist potato farmers who have been facing issues for 23 years.
“We need to support these suffering farmers. I shall present a Cabinet Paper and help these harassed farmers and resolve it” Bathiudeen said.
He made the announcement after his discussions with a group of potato farmers from the Uva Province who met Minister Bathiudeen on August 15 along with State Minister of Labour and Trade Unions Relations Ravindra Samaraweera.
Uva Province is the leading potato assembly centre in Sri Lanka, annually producing 65 percent of domestic supply.
More than 20000 farmers are engaged in potato farming in both Badulla (Uva Province) and Nuwara Eliya (Central Province) Districts. Uva Province has many Producer Cooperative Societies active and they face the critical issue of sourcing seed potatoes, which is costly.
The government earlier planned to ban seed potato imports by 2016 to encourage domestic seed production but due to demand surge, still allows imports. Sri Lanka produced 70377 MT of potatoes in 2014/15 and it increased by 14% to 80458 MT in 2015/2016’s harvest. The extent of cultivation in 2015/’16 was 5092 Hectares, also an increase of 14.5% from previous season’s 4447 Ha.