Reconstruction of Agricultural Marketing System in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka

T. A. Dharmratne

Abstract


The major challenges that need to be taken into consideration in terms ofagricultural development in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka are “reconstruction ofthe appropriate agricultural marketing systems. The market mechanism basicallyallocates resources in a market economy and provides signals for producers, distributorsand consumers. For restoration of the agricultural marketing systems, policy makers donot have proper information about the agricultural marketing systems as well asobstacles against the market forces, so that they cannot identify the essentialgovernment complementary role in promoting agricultural markets. The overallobjective of the study is to undertake a market study aimed at generating informationthat would enable the authorities to gain an understanding of the existing agriculturalmarketing systems. Systems approach as a methodology of the paper was employed toidentify agricultural marketing knowledge and its dynamics.

Complete peaceful environment prevails in the province although marketingproblems are constantly checking the progress of agriculture. Challenges as well as newopportunities are emerging side by side agricultural marketing. 1, 47,574 farm familiesin northern districts are involved in farming related activities. It is estimated that cropproduction may be of the order of 1, 50,000 tones as against 800,000 tones earlier.Paddy, onion, green chili, potato, tobacco, Palmyra, poultry, dairy, fishery, banana,grape, mango, beetroot, carat, cabbages and many more products were thriving in theprovince in the past. Prior to the conflict the province had a cultivatable area of about300,000 hectares of which over 110,000 ha were under paddy. The rest of land wasfruits, vegetables and other crops. Now money is being pumped to the sector bygovernment, NGOs and farmers themselves with some positive results. However, stillthe province has to unearth its lost market trails while looking for innovative approachesfor new marketing networks for higher gains. Marketable surplus are smoothly growingfor many crops. Except for red onion, banana, grapes, other agricultural products are in deficit in relation to the consumption requirement of the province. The paddy 82%, drychili 66%, pulses only 14%, and vegetables 60% of the provincial requirement wasproduced, while production of red onion was 195% of province consumption necessity.Post war agricultural production is gradually picking up in the province and theessential infrastructural facilities are being developed. Trading systems have changed;old cooperative societies, public funded paddy marketing board, and certain governmentinterventions both at input supply and output distribution are no longer there. Valuechain and integrations in the province are either absent or poorly visible now. However,power devolution will meet only political aspirations of some people interested withpolitics in the region, but it will not bring tangible solution to economic struggles ofhundreds and thousands of underprivileged poor farm producers in the province.

Key words: agricultural marketing, Northern Province, Jaffna farmers, post conflict

 


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