Nearly ten thousand people in Southern plantations could face food shortages, due to the Government arbitrarily raising the price of bread and wheat flour without considering the impact on the working poor.
For hundreds of years, plantation workers in the South and Upcountry have made bread and wheat-based food, particularly roti, a staple of their diet. Workers say they are facing starvation due to rising prices.
Plantation workers complained that they work as tea estate labourers for Rs 700-800 per day and can only afford one and a half kilos of rice and one kilo of wheat flour.
“There are at least three to four children in one family, especially in homes of plantation workers and now they cannot provide food and drink to their dependents.These people eat roti in the morning and prepare large roti for lunch and dinner, and they are only used to eating rice at night. This grave situation has arisen as a result of a change in their diet pattern caused by an increase in the price of flour,” workers say.
Estate workers claim that due to the increase in the price of bread flour and rice, as well as other food items such as biscuits and milk powder, they are unable to provide for their children and daily income is insufficient to even support one person. They request a relief mechanism for bread flour to be provided at a low cost, and said that the Government will be held accountable for their deaths if otherwise.
By Udaya Kumara Ranaweera – Matara