President Gotabaya Rajapaksa emphasized that cultivators of minor crops including turmeric and pepper should be protected by ensuring stable prices for them.
The importation of turmeric and pepper was completely suspended in order to protect local producers of these crops. President highlighted the importance of creating an environment to earn the highest possible income by harnessing more international markets.
President Rajapaksa made these remarks during a meeting to discuss future activities of the State Ministry of Development of Sugarcane, Maize, Cashew, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Betel Production and Promotion of Allied Products and Export held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (3).
Possibility of meeting demand for turmeric and pepper locally, exporting minor crops as value added products and formulating proper planning were discussed in length.
The annual demand for maize in the country is 500,000 metric tons. The area to be cultivated to yield this harvest is one hundred and ten thousand hectares. At present 80,000 hectares of land is cultivated with maize and the government aims to increase it to 110,000 hectares of land by the end of next year.
Plans are underway to cultivate turmeric and ginger in 100 villages and it is planned to establish an Export Zone in the Kurundugaha hatapma area. The President pointed out the importance of popularizing consumption of pepper among the people instead of chilli consumption.
Pakistan is the major importer of Sri Lankan betel. Exports declined owing to flight restrictions during coronavirus outbreak. President Rajapaksa instructed the officials to discuss with the airlines and find a solution to this issue.
The President also emphasized the need of universities to expand research works on value added products related to minor export crops.
During this meeting it was discussed in detail regarding the promotion of sugarcane industry and cashew cultivation.
Minister Ramesh Pathirana, State Minister Janaka Wakkumbura, Head of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Secretaries to Cabinet and State Ministries, officials of line institutions and representatives of cultivation associations were also present at the discussion.