Govt finally promises action against adulterers of Lankan pepper


Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera and All Ceylon Farmers Federation (ACFF) President Namal Karunaratne

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amraweera disclosed yesterday that he had made a complaint to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) against the illegal business of mixing high quality Sri Lankan pepper with low quality foreign pepper on the high seas.

During a meeting with All Ceylon Farmers Federation (ACFF) President Namal Karunaratne, Minister Amaraweera promised to provide an immediate solution to pepper farmers in Sri Lanka and to get a reasonable price for them.

Amaraweera said it had been revealed that very poor quality pepper from other countries was mixed with local produce on the high seas and that racked posed a huge threat to Sri Lankan pepper exports.

Minister Amaraweera said stern legal action would be taken against the culprits who were damaging the reputation of Ceylon black pepper.

According to government statistics, in 2016, Sri Lanka’s spice exports totalled USD 264 million and black pepper exports were at USD 72 million (declining from 2015’s USD 144 million). The total production of 17,000 MT of black pepper in Sri Lanka in 2012 surged to 18,660 MT in 2014 and has peaked to 25,995 MT by last year (2017). Annual local household consumption ranges from 5,800 MT to 6,000 MT and in 2016, the industrial consumption was at 5,312 MT.

Black pepper produced in Sri Lanka has no pesticides and is organically grown, and has a larger piperine content- substance greatly used for medicinal, dietary and flavouring applications. Therefore, Sri Lanka finds that international demand for Lankan pepper cannot be satisfied easily. Around 60 percent of annual Lankan black pepper exports are headed to India and the rest to other destinations such as the EU and the US.

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