Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa recently said the imprisonment of spice businessman Mohammed Ibrahim was also a reason as to why the prices for pepper have gone down.
Mohammed Ibrahim is a popular spice trader in the country who is in remand custody after his two sons Imsath Ahamed and Ilham Ahamed launched suicide attacks at Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on Easter Sunday last year.
Mr. Rajapaksa said the reduction in exports due to COVID-19 pandemic and the imprisonment of Ibrahim, which has resulted in hampering his business, had made a grave impact on pepper trade.
Speaking at a rally in Monaragala, he said the issue of pepper prices will be resolved once the COVID-19 situation comes to an end giving the opportunity for exports.
“There was a good price for pepper from Badalkumbura in the past. Today, it has come down due to covid-10 pandemic. On the other hand, the imprisonment of Ibrahim also made an impact on the prices as his businesses were disrupted. We are confident that the situation will dissipate the situation and once the exports recommence, the prices will return to normalcy," he said.
Last week, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had a meeting with stakeholders in the pepper industry to review actions that need to be taken to find a long-term solution pertaining to the pepper price.
President Rajapaksa said during his visits to several districts, farmers requested him to safeguard the cultivators by taking measures to increase the pepper price.
He said Sri Lanka is among the world’s best pepper producers and that the demand is high for Sri Lankan pepper in the world market.
“After my assumption to office the importation of pepper was halted completely. As a result of this step yet again the environment has been created to export high quality pepper. We should win the foreign market by appraising the buyer countries through all the diplomatic missions”, the President stressed.
The attention was drawn to increase the quota for pepper following consultations with India. The President pointed out that our key strategy should be to supply pepper as a value-added product to the world market.
It was discussed in detail how to increase the demand for pepper worldwide, by encouraging new exporters and the development of post-harvest techniques.
President instructed the institutes led by the Ministry of Agriculture to jointly plan necessary steps for drying, sterilization and setting up of processing centers at district level to add more value to pepper. It has also decided to allocate funds for equipment from the next budget.
President Rajapaksa emphasized that the end result of all the decisions should be to ensure maximum price for the pepper harvest.
The President giving advice to implement all the decisions immediately said that the target of the next year should be to receive higher prices for the pepper productions.