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Kinniya salt iodating factory will boost local economy - Divisional Secretary



Kinniya Divisional Secretary
C. Krishnendran.

Plans are afoot to set up a salt iodating factory in Kinniya, with the help of the Divi Neguma rural development program, Kinniya Divisional Secretary (DS) C. Krishnendran said.

Sri Lanka is achieving self-sufficiency in salt production. A large number of small salterns contribute indirectly to achieve this goal.

There is a necessity to improve the quality of production of these salterns to meet national standards. Kinniya salt is below the required standard, the Divisional Secretary said.


Salt packs are loaded to a landmaster


Harvested salt

Salt production was introduced on a Samurdhi Concept to improve the living standards of beneficiaries. A large number of people are engaged in salt production as a lucrative venture.

The Divi Neguma project supports the industry by providing the technology to enhance the quality of salt.

The price of salt produced by Kinniya farmers depends on the opportunities for making. Kinniya salt is used to manufacture soap and leather preservation.

It is not used for consumption. A higher price for salt can be obtained only by improving the quality of salt, Krishnendran said.

Merely, engaging in salt production will not help to improve the quality of salt. Farmers should improve their professional skills to develop the industry, the Divisional Secretary said.

Kinniya Divisional Secretariat leases lands to low income families to start salterns. From time to time the Samurdhi Authority provides guidelines to farmers.

Divisional Secretary Krishnendran said that salt production is the livelihood of over 300 families in Kinniya.Kinniya Divisional Secretariat is issuing permits to freight salt from Kinniya to other parts of the country. Certain people still use permits issued by the Commissioner General of Essential Services to transport salt. Due to this process the Divisional Secretariat is unable to exactly count how many people are engaged in salt transportation.

If a salt iodating plant is set up a large amount of money can be saved, Krishnendran said.

People in Kinniya are engaged in salt production for more than 20 years. People in the area started salterns and today it provides livelihood to a large number of people, the Divisional Secretary said.

Besides Krishnendran said that the contribution of Pradeshiya Sabhas is vital to protect the environment.

Meanwhile the Divisional Secretary said that paddy and salt production should take place parallely. Each industry should not affect other.

Kinniya Predashiya Sabh a Chairman S.L.M. Jawadullah we talked to said salt and seashells are the main natural resources in Kinniya.

He said that the Kinniya Pradeshiya Sabha is taking steps to make use of those resources.

It plans to set up a salt iodating plant. The 'Divi Neguma program of the Economic Development Ministry has allocated funds for this purpose.

If this plant was set up over 1,000 direct and indirect employment can be generated, Jawadullah said.

Salt farmers receive a low price for their production. They also face immense difficulties to market their products.

The salt industry is years behind due to lack of opportunities for marketing and owing to its low quality, he said.

Jawadullah said that he will obtain assistance of NGOs to improve the professional skills and develop the industry.

N.M. Razick, said that he is engaged in salt production for nearly 10 years without help from anyone. Marketing is a major issue of salt farmers.

Their income is low. One kilo of salt is purchased at Rs. 6. If Rs. 10 was offered the production cost can be covered.

He said that salt produced in Kinniya is transported to Puttalam for iodating, packing and other purposes.

There is another saltern in Kachchakoditivu in Kinniya, an area of over 150 acres. They also face problems in marketing

Salt farmers in Kinniya have called upon the Government to protect the industry.

Salt is harvested in 15-20 days depending on the weather.

During the rainy season the harvest will decline, Razick said.Yunus Junaideen, a salt farmer in the area said the manufacturer and buyer can benefit from the Industry. He said that different prices are offered by different purchasers. There is less demand for Kinniya salt. A 50 kilogram pack of salt ranges from Rs. 250 to Rs. 300. This is not sufficient to pay wages of to labourers. There are several expenses in the salt manufacturing process.

If the Government or other private sector institutions come forward to purchase one kilo of salt at Rs. 10 it will be helpful to improve the living standards of the farmers as well as the industry. A worker is paid Rs. 1,000 per day and transporter is paid Rs. 20.

"When a kilo of iodated salt is Rs. 30 in the market, nobody is willing to offer at least at Rs. 10 for our salt" Junaideen said.

The salt farmers in Kinniya supply over 400,000 packs of salt to the market, he said. Each farmer can supply over 1,000 packs of salt.

Jailany Mohammad Farook said that the Samurdhi Authority constructed a canal to irrigate salt fields in Kachchakoditivu. Each farmer has to pay Rs. 1,600 to the Authority every year.

The salt farmers have formed a society to voice their concerns. Even though the society makes certain welfare arrangements, financially it is weak to purchase the entire production.

H. M. Muhammad Najaab, a salt farmer in Kinniya, said that his income depends on the extent of the saltern. He operates a quarter acre saltern and earns over Rs. 150,000. He is able to harvest nearly 400 packs of salt every season. "There is no monopoly in the salt market", Najaab said.Earlier a 50 kilo pack of salt was purchased at Rs. 700. Today the price has dropped around Rs. 250 to Rs. 300. Our income is poor when compared to the expenditure. Salt which was sold at Rs. 50,000 has decreased to Rs. 25,000.

"We do not get the assistance of the Government or other welfare organisations to improve the quality of salt and to market the product" Najaab said.

"The Government should have a stipulated price for salt to protect industry. The farmers incur losses due to price fluctuation.

The future of salt farmers depends on the support of the Government, according to Najaab.

Muhammad Ismail Manaz, a salt farmer in Kinniya, who produces salt in a quarter acre said that as a result of the drop in salt price the income of farmer has been affected badly.

The rise in the price of kerosene oil has also affected the income of the salt farmers, he said.Muhammad Hanifa Naseer, a salt farmer in Munaichchenai, Kinniya said that from a over 50-acre saltern nearly 60,000 packs of salt is harvested every season. Salt from the area is transported to Hambantota, Kandy, Colombo, Matale, Negombo and Kalmunai.

He said that a kilo of salt was sold at Rs. 10 to Rs. 12, due to the increase in salt production. As a result the price of salt has declined.

The authorities should take steps to set up a sluice gate to divert the excess water in the canal", he said.

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