The usual sacks of vegetables, photo by Adam Cohn
Drove through Fort this evening and saw huge pile of tires. Thought it was for the Colombo Night Races at first, but no, they were burnt. Protest tires. No bodies inside though. Bonus.
The basic issue is that the government is calling for all vegetables to be transported in plastic crates rather than sacks. The issue with the issue is that plastic crates cost at least Rs. 1000 (according to the farmer blogger Serendipity) and sacks cost like nothing. The logic is that crates reduce wastage by like 20-30%, but the rub is that traders need to spend on the crates, can’t pile as much stuff in, and then have to send the crates back.
These issues are workable, but the government’s usual ad hoc policy making has led to what has become a cycle of protests and delays, which seem to be coming to a head now. I think W3 Lanka describes the general policy best: “First implement the law, then call off it due to protest and finally discuss with the stakeholders.”
According to them, the government is digging in and saying the policy is for reals this time (it’s actually I think almost a year old), but traders and farmers are digging in and protesting in Dambulla and Colombo, among other places. The government has, in turn, dug itself in by taking at least 30 vehicles into custody.
What I think is that the government should have either A) shoved this policy through the first time and/or B) come up with a sort of exchange system whereby crates are recirculated (like natural gas containers) and C) offered some sort of subsidy or incentive for converting, perhaps early. Instead we get recurring protests, a short-term spike in vegetable wastage, and no non-humiliating option for either side.
What I suspect this means for me is no green chilis tomorrow besides the shrively ones at the bottom of the crisper. Le sigh.