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Farmers struggle as lime prices soar due to middlemen activities: Urgent calls for intervention

May 14, Colombo (LNW): Farmers cultivating lime in the Anuradhapura District find themselves in a challenging situation due to the lack of a lucrative market for their produce, while urban areas witness a surge in lime prices attributed to the activities of middlemen.

Asela Sampath, representing the National Consumers’ Organisation, addressed the media following an event at the Thalawa Divisional Secretariat, highlighting the exploitation faced by farmers who are compelled to sell their produce at significantly low prices to middlemen.

The wholesale purchase price of lime in the Anuradhapura area stands at Rs. 50.00 per kilo, yet the current market rate has escalated to Rs. 2,000.

This disparity has led farmers to refrain from harvesting their yield to avoid substantial losses, resulting in surplus produce left unattended under trees, according to Sampath.

He added that similar challenges plague other agricultural products.

He advocated for the establishment of mechanisms to preserve lime and other surplus agricultural goods abundant during the harvesting season for sale during off-peak periods.

“Yesterday at the Thambuttegama Economic Centre, mangoes were being wholesaled at Rs. 150 per kilo, yet middlemen acquire them to sell in towns after chemical treatment, fetching prices ranging between Rs. 500 and Rs. 600 per kilo. During the harvesting season, farmers arrive with cartloads of mangoes only to receive Rs. 150 per kilo from middlemen.”

“Watermelon faces a similar fate, with substantial quantities in the Rajarata area discarded in jungles and left for animals to consume. Urgent government intervention is needed to procure these surplus goods for distribution to hospitals, army camps, and schools, thereby supplementing the midday meals of schoolchildren,” he emphasised.

Sampath expressed concern over authorities’ apparent indifference towards the plight of farmers in the face of the ongoing exploitation by middlemen and the absence of a lucrative market for their produce.

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