I was asked why I was so harsh on the Divi Neguma program. It is simple. It was designed by fools who can’t think beyond their noses. They have fooled everyone for what? Let us just take an example of the two aspects of farming. One by those engaged in it for a living, the GOVIYA! And the other the kitchen garden. The latter is only encouraged to grow, for improving the diet at home, by eating healthy fruit and vegetables and having a surplus to exchange with neighbors, take to relatives, or sell in the local pola or to local kades, to supplement income.
One example of how we must get rid of the surplus.
Since the end of the war the North has opened up to agriculture. Farmers there appear to be more efficient in their production techniques and are giving a run to the Nuwera Eliya farmers as they are competing to produce up country vegetables. Then they are giving a run for the red onion farmers in the East, as they can also produce this, thus reducing the price from the Rs200s per kg to single figures. The produce from the North coming to the Dambulla Economic Zone, has reduced the vegetable prices significantly putting a lot of farmers in the South who were less efficient out of business permanently. They cannot compete with more productive, and efficient producers.
Sri Lanka must make an arrangement with the Maldives to fly produce from Jaffna airport to the South Atoll and then to resorts closer to them. The exporters in Colombo currently find a big problem in supplying the orders for their Maldives customers, so it would be a method of directly supplying fresh produce from the North to them, and reduce some of the bottlenecks in bringing it to Dambulla.
The Government should engage in this if it is to find solutions to these problems. They are simply unable to think outside the box and so get into a situation, where they have encouraged people to produce with no means of marketing the produce. In the end the relationship must be a direct one with the farmer and the exporter, who will produce to order, knowing that prices and quantities are guaranteed. The farmer at the same time MUST understand that in order to get a guaranteed price, when there are shortages, and the prices in the market exceed the guaranteed price, he must fulfill his commitment to the exporter, who has stood by him, rather than sneaking out the produce to the local market for higher prices.
The surpluses created could just as soon DRY UP and become shortages. The Govt. will be to blame. They have not been able to find suitable markets, and in the meantime the farmer has gone belly up leaving it to the survivors to prosper.
There is very little information on the plight of the farmer in the Press, as it is a topic that very few reporters understand. We are creating a very hard working underclass that are misled by this government as regards to their entitlements, without adequate explanation as to what we wish from them and the promises made to them. We have therefore let the farmer down, by lying to him and taking advantage of him.
Only time will be a luxury to show the error of the present direction and the need for an equitable solution