Sri Lanka vegetable traders hit by contradictory allegations

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrives with flowers to receive blessings at the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Colombo, Sri Lanka on Wednesday 4 April 2018. On wednesday (4), Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion in the Sri Lankan parliament with a 46 vote majority after a 12-hour debate with 122 MPs voted in his support while 76 MPs voting to remove the prime minister. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Apr 11, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s vegetable traders who are often accused of keeping prices up through a purchasing ‘mafia’ have now been accused of lowering prices through imports, according to a media report. Sri Lanka’s The Sunday Times newspaper said local tomatoes were being sold for prices between 100 to 120 rupees and vegetables imported from India was being sold at around 60 rupees a kilo.

Sri Lanka’s farmers, particularly rice farmers, are pampered with massive fertilizer subsidies charged from taxes on other goods and services, and are also given price support schemes with public money.

Farmers in other South Asian countries are much more efficient than in Sri Lanka. The state instead of putting money in improving productivity by shifting farmers to products that are more suited for Sri Lanka has pumped billions into fertilizer subsidies.

As a result of pursuing ‘self sufficiency’ policies Sri Lanka’s food prices have remained higher than at global levels for several years, increasing food insecurity.

The state is now exhorting people to grow vegetables in their garden instead of flowers, a call not made since the ‘closed economy’ days of the 1970s, when state interference