Convenor Namal Karunaratne said that importing 6000 MT of Basmati from Pakistan under a FTA instead of providing a solution for the widely spread turmeric scarcity, was problematic.
Karunaratne believes that in order to support the local industry, rice should not be imported.
He accused the government of contradicting its own statements after claiming that imports were restricted on certain commodities in order to build a self-sufficient economy.
7,000 MT Turmeric demand for a decadeMeanwhile, Director General at the Department of Export Agriculture - Dr. A.P. Heenkenda says that the annual consumption of turmeric of Sri Lanka, (an essential ingredient in local kitchens), was around 7000 MT for around a decade before 2019.
He said that 5,000 metric tons of it was imported and only 2,000 metric tons was produced locally.
He says the local farmers were not motivated to cultivate turmeric because they did not get a good price for the crop.
Until recently, a kilo of turmeric was purchased for around Rs.20, he also pointed out.
Importation of 10 spices including turmeric and ginger has been banned since December 06, 2019.
Dr. Heenkenda points out that 1,500 hectares of turmeric have been cultivated at present and that a crop of 22,500 MT raw turmeric is expected from the crops grown from March to May.
He says that if 4,000 MT of this raw turmeric crop is set aside for planting, the country would be self-sufficient in turmeric by the end of 2021 or by early 2022.
Related News :