Farmers to earn more:
Army helps consumers to pay less
selling vegetables ! To many it sounds strange but the need arose when
traders began to sell vegetables at high prices. This compelled the
soldiers to step into the business.
Over 25,000 soldiers, who carried weapons to free the country from
the scourge of LTTE terrorism have waged a ‘mini battle’ against the
errant vegetable traders who increased vegetable prices at exorbitant
It is yet again a humanitarian operation to save the poor consumers
and also the farmers. The government which tolerated enough took a
decision to take over control of selling vegetables to avoid the black
market mafia that sold the vegetables more than the normal selling
The approval came from the Commander-in-Chief President Mahinda
Rajapaksa to the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to launch a
project to purchase vegetables to facilitate the consumers.
“ The Sri Lanka Army (SLA), which is now engaged in peace time
activities embarked on this project under the instructions of the
President last week. It is a success and we hope to expand it islandwide”,
the Army Chief Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya said.
was 10 am on Friday. A large queue was at the small ground of the
Colombo Municipality in front of the Gangaramaya Temple.
People of all walks of life gathered to buy vegetables sold at the
SLA outlet. The officer in-charge of the outlet said there was a good
response from the public and they sold over 600 kilos of over 20
varieties of vegetables daily.
The price list indicated: a kilo of carrot Rs. 70 and beans Rs. 80 a
kilo whereas a kilo of carrot was sold for Rs. 140 and beans for Rs.
160 in the open market.
He said there is a good demand for vegetables sold at the outlet and
the consumers want the Army to continue the operation till the prices in
the open market comes down.
Maduka Shiromi, a young mother who had come to buy vegetables after
dropping her daughter at the preschool said all her neighbours now buy
from this outlet as they could get very fresh vegetables. “ The prices
here are very much less than the prices of the open market.
We are happy with the Government’s decision to ask the Army to take
over the selling of vegetables”, she said.
Next in the queue was Maapriya Pieris. He said he buys vegetables
sufficient for a week and the wastage is zero as the vegetables were
fresh. “ What we have noticed was the vegetable curries were tasty as
the vegetables are fresh.
We are lucky that the Army came forward to help us save money. I
think the Army should open these outlets all over the country”, he said.
K. D.S Jayatilake who came to buy vegetables on her way home after
visiting her relative requested the Army to start the business in their
areas too. “ We should thank the Government for launching this project
to give the consumers a financial relief. If the Army can continue to
sell vegetables until the prices in the open market are stable”, she
However, this endeavour by the SLA has been criticized by the
Opposition claiming that the Government is trying to militarize the
“This is not an effort to militarize but an activity of an Army
during peace time”, the SLA military spokesman Maj. Gen. Ubaya Madewala
said.According to the Army Spokesman, peace time army has a
responsibility to provide military assistance to civil authorities if
the Army has the resources and expertise to handle assistance. “ The
Army can assist the civil Ministry, the civil police, civil community
and also peace keeping missions.
“When the vegetable prices are soaring, the Army decided to commence
a project to facilitate the people, who pay the Government to maintain
the Army. It is our responsibility to come forward to help the people of
the country when they are in distress. We sought the approval from the
President, who gave us the final nod to our project”, he said.
He said the main desire of the project was to bring down the prices
of vegetables and to give a fair price for the farmers who had been
duped by the middlemen. An inquiry done by the Army showed that
vegetable prices in the open market was one and half more than the
prices of vegetables sold by the farmers.
“We wanted to give a relief for the farmers as some times they don’t
get a price to cover the initial cost of the cultivation. In this
project there is no middle man and the Army doesn’t add the transport
cost to the selling price”, he said.
|The SLA vegetable outlets are open from 10 am
to 6pm daily in the following locations:
Maligawatta Housing Scheme,
* Fort Railway Station,
* Campbell Park,
* Hyde Park,
* Muttiah Road,
* Torrington Square,
* Ekala and Ratmalana.
Initially the project started with opening outlets in Colombo in 14
locations but as the request from the people to Army to sell vegetables
in their areas, was high, the Army decided to expand the service to
greater Colombo. Now Army’s vegetable selling points are open in
Moratuwa, Homagama, Kaduwela and Katunayake.
Maj. Gen. Medawela said though the public requests were high, the SLA
faced a difficulty in expanding the project in other districts as they
lack resources like transport facilities.
The vegetables are directly purchased from farmers in vegetable
growing areas including Diyathalawe, Kandy, Anuradhapura and Avissawella
and sold in locations that are close to different Army camps.
Some of those areas will continue to have permanent outlets while
Army mobile service is to sell vegetables at other locations.
According to the SLA Spokesman, farmers are enthusiastically selling
their products to the Army except some farmers who are bonded with some
businessmen who sponsor them in providing fertilizer and pesticide.
He said the SLA does not want to be a threat to the retailers but
want them to maintain a reasonable price for vegetables in the open
Maj. Gen. Medawela said as the ‘Army Elawalu pola’ is getting popular
among the masses, the SLA is to commence mobile services to facilitate
consumers in other districts, soon.