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Sri Lanka to promote domestic grape cultivation with local expertise

By: Staff Writer Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka is to promote domestic grape cultivation as it receives support by the expertise of farmers, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has said. A vineyard started by J G M Bandara in the Uva – Paranagama region has been successful, prompting a visit by the Agriculture Minister. As Sri Lanka annually spends a lot of foreign exchange to import grapes, Minister Amaraweera was quoted as saying in a statement posted on the state information office facebook.com page. A program to promote the cultivation of grapes will be developed backed by the expertise of local farmers he added. The Duch introduced grape cultivation to Sri Lanka two centuries ago. While grapes are grown in other areas, Jaffna is the only one that cultivates them commercially. There are around 800 grape growers in Jaffna cultivating it in more than 100 hectares and more farmers are joining in due to its commercial value. Many economic programs are developed in Sri Lanka due to foreign exchange shortages created by the central bank. The country has high import duties on foods, malnutrition and stunting of young children. Many basic foods including rice, maize are taxed to give protected producers high profits and trade restrictions worsen from time to time as money is printed to boost growth. Sri Lanka’s inflationist macro-economic elite have resided moving to a consistent monetary regime like a clean float or hard peg, according to critics. The Dambulla Economic Centre Traders Association said , while the quantity of vegetables from the Jaffna Peninsula was increasing and that a large quantity of grapes grown in Jaffna was being brought into the Centre. They said in the last few days, they received grapes from Jaffna priced between Rs 1,300 and 1,350 per kilogramme and that with the increase in quantity, the price of grapes had dropped to Rs 900 per kilogramme. Traders note that because of the low production in other areas there was a high demand for Jaffna grapes. The Dambulla Economic Centre traders point out that the grape harvest comes in small packages from Jaffna at around 4 a.m., and traders from almost every area in the island come to Dambulla to buy the stock of Jaffna grapes. Grape cultivators in Jaffna are in for good times as their produce will be made sweeter with new pruning and cultivation methods that will be introduced by agricultural research officers. The sourness of grapes has been a major drawback to grapevine farmers making a living off the crop.

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