Colombo – Sri Lankan officials said an import ban on turmeric is set to continue as the government aims to encourage local production of the crop, local media reported Wednesday.
Acknowledging difficulties faced by consumers due to a shortage of turmeric, which is a local staple, Minister of Plantations, Ramesh Pathirana, said Sri Lanka could produce at least 4,000 metric tonnes of turmeric, more than half the requirement for local consumption.
The import ban has sent prices skyrocketing, which the government hopes will be a boon to local cultivators.
However, the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) has stepped in to impose a maximum retail price of $4 per kg of turmeric.
Minister of Trade, Dr Bandula Gunawardena, said the government would not relent on a total ban of turmeric imports for general market consumption but may ease restrictions for re-export after consultation with local businesses.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan security forces have been engaged in a series of operations to crack down on smugglers bringing turmeric into the country by boat from neighbouring India.
On Tuesday, four individuals were arrested with 261 kg of smuggled turmeric.
Last week, authorities confiscated nearly $38,000 worth of turmeric, smuggled by boat.
The Sri Lankan Navy said it had intercepted and seized 7,552 kg of smuggled turmeric between July 28 and Aug. 14.