A lifeline for farmers, traders

All Dedicated Economic Centres (DECs) in the country were kept open on August 24 and 25 in order to help farmer communities to sell their agricultural products without any delay.

Accordingly, the major DECs including the Peliyagoda Manning Market in Colombo, Dambulla, Thambuththegama (Anuradhapura), Meegoda and Narahenpita were kept open from early morning till late evening to enable vegetable farmers to sell their stocks to wholesale traders under one roof. Some DECs were open 24/7 to facilitate the farmers and traders.

There was a huge rush at all the DECs with hundreds of vehicles carrying vegetables, fruit and fish converging at the gates. Wholesale traders were waiting for the stocks to be unloaded to make their purchases. The farmers were able to get good prices for their produce. Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said this decision to open the DECs at least for two days was taken in response to repeated requests made by farmers’ organisations and also farmer communities in several agricultural areas to open them without further delay even amidst the 10-day curfew.

He said most farmers complained that they were unable to sell large stocks of vegetables during the last few days and they had to dump these stocks, adding to the country’s massive Post Harvest Losses (PHL). The opening of the DECs has reduced this waste and given the farmers an opportunity to sell their produce.

Minister Aluthgamage said that steps have also been taken to distribute vegetables through countrywide divisional secretariats using public and private transport. The Government has given permits for vendors to deliver vegetables to the doorsteps of the people. Only vaccinated vendors are given this facility to ensure the safety of consumers.

The Minister also directed Police and other security personnel to allow vegetable transporters to make their deliveries to the Economic Centres without any hindrance.

Meanwhile, All Ceylon Farmer Federation (ACFF) National Organiser Namal Karunaratna, while thanking the Government for opening the DECs for the last two days, said farmer communities in vegetable-producing areas face immense hardships and therefore steps should be taken immediately to make a proper distribution method even after these two days.

He said a proper vegetable distribution method during this pandemic situation period would help them at least to sell their products online whilst maintaining all health guidelines.

Karunaratna proposed to the authorities to visit vegetable-producing areas in Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Polonnaruwa and Hambantota so that they themselves could inspect the situation clearly. Meanwhile, most farmers who brought their produce to the DECs have already switched over to organic fertiliser under the Government’s plans to move to organic agriculture. Advisory services are available for farmers to learn more about the use of organic fertiliser.

(Picture by Wimal Karunathilake, Niroshan Batepola, Sudath Malaweera, Samantha Weerasiri and Anuradhapura Special Corr. – Amila Prabhath)

– Daily News Sri Lanka

, Feature, farmers,,lifeline,traders,

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