Farmers in Sri Lanka are up in arms against low-priced agricultural imports from India that have flooded the country's markets. After prolonged protest campaigns against the duty-free potato and chilli imports from India, the government of the island nation has imposed a 10 per cent levy on chillies. This, however, has not appeased the farmers.

With the Sri Lankan commerce ministry's permission, the markets were flooded with cheap Indian farm products even as the local products remained unsold. This even drove a farmer to commit suicide at Eppawala, 170 km northeast of Colombo, triggering heated protests by chilli farmers.

They considered the 10 per cent duty on Indian chillies a late move. "The farmers will have to wait for a considerable period until the imported stocks are exhausted and then only, they will be able to sell their products," Said a spokesperson for the Rajarata Farmers' Organisation (RFO).

The RFO spokesperson contended that "prices should be brought down by an efficient system of marketing coupled with proper storage system and not by asking the poor farmer to enter into an unfair competition Nvith the foreign products." The Rajarata area in the North Central province alone produced over 50,000 tonne of dried chillies in the past season.

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