Local turmeric to reach market in January | Sunday Observer

Local turmeric to reach market in January

29 November, 2020

The government is expecting the next yield of turmeric to reach the market early next year.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena said the Government will announce the market price later. He said the Government is putting more emphasis on the farmers than the market itself.

The Government banned the import of several products including turmeric in a bid to promote local production. In some parts of the island farmers were provided with seeds and fertilisers to grow the spice.

Turmeric smuggling

However, this also prompted people to smuggle turmeric from India. On Wednesday (25), the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) recovered a hidden stock of dried turmeric weighing 1,067 kg and apprehended a suspect, during a special search operation conducted in Puttalam.

In a press release the SLN stated during this special operation carried out at the second mile post on the Puttalam-Mannar Road, the Northwestern Naval Command was able to find this stock of dried turmeric hidden at a salt manufacturing outlet in the area.

The consignment of turmeric weighing 1,067kg had been stuffed in 25 sacks. A suspect from the fourth mile post in Rahuman Nagar was also held by Navy in connection with this incident.

The suspect, a 37-year-old person, was handed over to the Puttalam Police for further legal action along with the recovered stock of dried turmeric, the SLN said.

In a separate operation, on November 20, the SLN and the Police apprehended two suspects in the beach area of Erukkulampiddi in Mannar, and seized 710kg of smuggled dried turmeric and over three kg of Kerala cannabis.

Apprehended wallam

“Accordingly, the North Central Naval Command and Mannar Police were able to make this apprehension after searching a traditional wallam boat which arrived at the Erukkulampiddi beach area. The boat was loaded with over 710kg (wet weight) of dried turmeric in 10 sacks and over 03kg of (wet weight) of Kerala cannabis in a package. Two suspects who were on the wallam boat were also held by the Navy,” the SLN said. The accused of this racketeering were identified as residents of Erukkulampiddi area, aged 35.

Those apprehended along with the ceased turmeric and Kerala cannabis stocks and boat were handed over to the Mannar police for legal action.

The SLN has arrested over 70 people and apprehended over 30 tonnes of turmeric since the import ban was imposed. Most of the smuggled turmeric came from the sea route through India causing officials to conclude that the turmeric originated from the neighboring nation.

Navy Spokesman Capt. Indika De Silva said the SLN has deployed more personnel on the beaches in the North Western part of the country.

“We recently further strengthened the security in the area due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and also because turmeric is been smuggled through this area,” Capt. Silva said.

The Sri Lanka Customs has also apprehended smuggled turmeric since its inclusion in the temporary suspension list. However, its spokesperson and Additional Director General Sunil Jayarathne said they are seeing a decrease in the incidents.

Jayarathne said the customs caught about 500 kilos of turmeric concealed among other goods in an smuggling attempt.The forfeited turmeric was released to the Sri Lanka Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation for the production of medicine.

The Government is to re -ship 62 containers of turmeric, weighing about 100 metric tonnes, that were brought to Sri Lanka from India between May and June.


The penalty for turmeric smuggling differs according to the circumstances. The goods are forfeited. The suspects may be remanded.

Consumers complained the turmeric that is available in local shops are adulterated and could pose health threats. Some have started to grow their own turmeric t in their gardens.

A shop owner who wished to remain anonymous, said in most cases turmeric is mixed with rice flour and dyed. “It is hard to say if it is mixed or pure turmeric until you buy it and use it in your food. It has happened before too but now we see more of it in the market,” he said.

However, turmeric farmers are hopeful that their yield will soon stabilise the market demand. Speaking to the Sunday Observer, an agriculture researcher of a Govijana Seva Centre said more and more farmers are taking their assistance to grow turmeric. The Government is providing seeds and fertilisers to support local production.

The researcher said that turmeric was not grown locally because the imported turmeric was much cheaper than the locally produced variety, and the farmers didn’t consider it as bringing economic benefits.

Following the ban, a kilo of dried turmeric fetch a price of Rs. 6000, while early this year the price was around Rs. 400.