Written by Staff Writer
22 Jan, 2019 | 9:00 pm
Colombo (News1st): Pumpkin farmers staged a demonstration in Nochchiyagama, Anuradhapura today (January 22) claiming that the government has failed to purchase their harvest as promised.
Due to an unexpected increase in pumpkin harvest this season, the government launched an islandwide program recently, to intervene in the purchasing of pumpkin. Accordingly, with the intention of selling their harvest, a group of farmers currently remain near the paddy store in Nochchiyagama.
Speaking to News1st the farmer complained that preferential treatment is being meted out to businessmen adding that the authorities are delaying the purchase of pumpkins from ordinary farmers. Some even alleged that agrarian officers had obtained bribes.
Police intervened while the group was protesting opposite the storage facility.
Meanwhile, MPs of the Opposition alleged that pumpkins are being purchased to the tune of various political agendas.
UPFA MP Shehan Semasinghe noted that they witnessed Minister of Agriculture stating that the Government would purchase pumpkins at a certified price of Rs 30 (per KG) and that a sum of Rs 10mn had been allocated for this purpose.
Semasinghe noted that the Government would only be able to purchase around 333,333 kg of pumpkin with the money that has been allocated. He noted that if the Government purchases around 1500kg from each farmer, this benefit would only be received by 222 farmers.
Breaking down the numbers further the MP noted that only around 10 farmers from each grama seva division would be able to sell their produce to the Government, adding that a requirement has been imposed to ensure that all farmers who receive this benefit are UNP members. Semasinghe called on the Government to discontinue such activities, that deceive the people.
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