Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne told Parliament yesterday (Sep. 10) that the Government has stopped the importation of potatoes to the country in order to provide potato farmers an opportunity to sell their produce at a profit.
The Premier said the Government purchased potatoes at Rs.80 per kilo from the farmer and it is prepared to purchase whatever quantum is offered from the potato farmers in order to protect them from traders who attempt to buy the harvests at a lower price. He was responding to a special statement made by DNA MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake under Standing Order 23 (2).
The MP said the potato farmers have been rendered helpless as they are unable to sell their crop since potatoes are imported when the farmers commence harvesting the crop.
The Prime Minister stated that the Government has taken several measures to protect the potato farmer.
It has stopped potato imports during the harvesting season. Potatoes are bought at Rs.80 per kilo. The fertilizer subsidy is given to the farmers. In addition a loan of Rs.250,000 is given at 7 per cent interest to cultivate an acre of potatoes. Local seed paddy is provided to farmers.
The Premier further said that it was he who went to Germany 24 years ago and bought seed potatoes to Sri Lanka and developed two centres that produced seed potatoes in Sri Lanka.
He added he was happy that this project has reached the current level of development. He told MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake that this was a topic aimed at the election and that it is good for the Government since the Government could divulge what it has done for the potato farmer.