Editorial

Killing farmers ok, ok?

Summary

Trader-friendly policies have for decades killed farmers. Activists didn’t give a hoot.

A person who calls himself an international human rights activist has raised an alarm: ‘killing traders via import curbs to save farmers ill-advised.’ Apparently, he has expressed this opinion to Damayanthi Karunaratne, the Controller of Imports and Exports.

The Daily FT has reported the story. It has essentially written whatever the ‘activist’ had to say and looks more like an advertorial than a news piece. Karunaratne’s opinion on issues raised have not warranted any mention except the activist’s claim that the Controller ‘was positive and enlightening.’

What he has to say is rich.

‘Sri Lanka must encourage farmers to increase the local production, but at the same time should allow the import traders to breathe and live in the system, though challenges remain due to the meltdown in foreign earnings.’

He doesn’t forget to mention WTO rules, which, for the record, the USA flouts at will. He doesn’t forget to throw in ‘natural disasters’ which could hamper the ability for local farmers to meet consumer demand.  

He takes the current ‘turmeric crisis’ as an example. Well, as THE example. Nowhere in what is obviously extracts from a long press release does the activist suggest the logical long-term solution of GROWING TURMERIC locally. Instead he harps on the price of a Made-in-India kilo being Rs 120 and the selling price Rs 4,600. Yes, there’s smuggling and other nefarious operations. Yes, some people are making bucks. Guess what..they are ALL TRADERS. Traders making a killing!

What’s interesting is that trader-friendly policies have for decades killed farmers. Activists didn’t give a hoot. When farmers committed suicide because the terms of exchange were skewed against them in a deadly manner, activists rushed to blame the government in power but no one said ‘let the farmers breathe, don’t kill them just because you want to save the traders!’ Activists didn’t say it. The media didn’t say it.

Go figure!

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