Sunday, November 12, 2017

The pepper conundrum – a farmers rant


I have recently gone to an organic farm where I have been a director for over 14 years now, and which has not made a profit in even one of them. It is in Kitulgala and is in an 85 acre property that has mixed agriculture.

Its Norwegian owner pays in Euros sent from his personal account to pay for the IMO certification, one of the most expensive certifications there are, and we decided this year to drop them and go for a more reasonable certification from a body that has more representation here. Also during this period the IMO testing has been taken over by an overseas source, which means their travelling costs etc. have to be borne by the farm.

As if to add fuel to the fire, a previous manager, who obviously has to be prosecuted and jailed for his conduct, has run away with all the documentation of the organic certification, and the certificates themselves, so that when the new organization has asked for the paperwork, we are currently trying to retrieve them from this manager, an ex-planter, who should be ashamed of what he has done to his own colleagues by this behavior.

To cut a long story short, we are just about to harvest the pepper and there are over 3,000 vines that have been planted in between the tea and other crops on the Gliricidiya plants and are heavy with Pepper, which have a higher oil content than that from other areas, and we because of the rain and inclement weather are unable to dry on the farm.

So we have about 3,000 kg of pepper that we wish someone to purchase, perhaps even pluck with their own people if they want the quality and purity they wish for processing purposes, and they can weigh and take them away, and do what they wish with it. All we want is a reasonable rate per kg that his plucked of this fantastic product.

Only a processor of quality pepper will appreciate this product and so it make no sense for such a quality of organic pepper, where our current certification document is the only missing item today, and this was one of the pioneering organic farms of Sri Lanka for over 20 years, cannot sell its pepper for a reasonable price.

We are aware of the pepper price issue lately with dumping of poor quality from Vietnam and so don’t want to be left merely selling it to a trader or middle man who does not value our product. We would like someone who knows the value of a good thing to come, observe or participate in the plucking and take the whole harvest away to be dried, or processed into black, white or otherwise immersed in the raw form and bottled for export to come and buy this, a win win for both.

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