Beware! Aloe Vera Scammers on the Rampage
By Eunice Ruth and Udara Madushanka
Even though Pepper, Betel, Turmeric and Ginger were considered as essential and high demanded products in Gampaha, currently Aloe Vera has also been added to the list. However, due to the interest which has been paid for the Aloe Vera by various organisations and individuals, Aloe Vera plantations in Gampaha has started growing significantly. Most of the farmers, who currently cultivates Aloe Vera, said that it has been identified as the best way to earn a high income with a low investment and now, most of the people here have started cultivating it.
However, all our expectations regarding Aloe Vera plantation have been shattered due to the fraudulent works of some people. While speaking in this regard to the resident people and poor farmers, they said that it was a group of individuals who have visited and instructed them to start cultivation. However, after giving fake promises and spoiled plants, they dumped us. J. M. Sunil, a resident of Borukgama, Mirigama, said that he survives by raising dairy cows. However, in past few days, thieves stole our cows. Due to this issue, I dropped raising cows and I started cultivating Aloe Vera.
Even though we started growing it, we had no idea or knowledge regarding the cultivation and maintaining process, he said. “A group of individuals, who have visited our village taught us and they have guided us to start the cultivation. They have explained to us regarding the income which we can earn through Aloe Vera cultivation and they said if we cultivate Aloe Vera by coordinating with them, they promised us that they will buy all our harvest from us. In addition, they have also said that, they will inspect us once a month by providing the relevant guidelines to promote the growth and earn a good income. However, they sold us the plants which were expensive.
After that, till today, we have never seen them,” said Sunil. Sunil further said that according to their guidance, the registration was done by them and they took Rs 1,000 from each and everyone as registration fees, and Rs 3,000 for signing the agreement regarding the cultivation. Also, they have sold an Aloe Vera plant for Rs 60 and they have instructed us again by promising that they will come again to collect the harvest, he added. However, after collecting money, registering our cultivation, selling the plants and providing the guidance, the group of individuals has been disappeared. A 60-year-old, E. Shriyani from Pallewela, noted that she was a farmer from her young age and she has mostly cultivated Banana and Betel, while she has also tried cultivating other crops.
However, by trusting the words of company people, I have stared cultivating Aloe Vera and I fell into a trouble, by starting the cultivation without a proper knowledge, she said. She also noted that those individuals have escaped from them after collecting a huge amount of money from all our farmers. After starting cultivating the plants which they gave us, within a period of one month, all the plants have started decaying. “The major issue which we faced was, we had no one to help or support us in this kind of situation. Even if we ask help from Agrarian Service Division of the district, they were also not aware regarding the Aloe Vera cultivation.
However, even after all we protected our crops according to our knowledge and we have got some harvest from them also. But unfortunately, even if we have our harvests, we have no one to buy our products. We kindly request the Government to look into this issue, by implementing a proper plan for Aloe Vera cultivation,” said Shriyani. She further pointed that, these individuals who have cheated them have Social Media platforms and via that also they have cheated some poor people by giving fake promises and guidance. Even though everyone does Social Media marketing’s, not everyone is real and there are some people who cheats public in various ways, she added.
Isuru Saranga, a young boy from Kirillawala, Kadawatha, who started cultivating Aloe Vera by trusting Social Media marketing, said that, he bought 100 plants for Rs 50 each. However, even within a month after planting, half of the plants have got decayed and only a small amount was saved from those 100 plants. Chairman of Kumara Somasinghe Foundation and a Member of Pradeshiya Sabha, Kumara Somasinghe, said that, he has taken steps to get the Government intervened in Aloe Vera cultivation. He noted that recently, most of the farmers have paid much interest on Aloe Vera cultivation and by engaging in Aloe Vera cultivation farmers can earn a huge income.
However, due to some fraudulent activities of some people, our farmers are in a stage where they will hate cultivation and they will shift to any other jobs. “I have forwarded this particular issue to the State Minister of Rural Roads and Other Infrastructure, Nimal Lanza also. We are expecting to commence the Aloe Vera cultivation by selecting a suitable land and by providing the needed training for the farmers to reach the market along with their harvest and also with the intervention of the Government,” said Somasinghe. Meanwhile, he added that, the farmers are not ready to accept shortterm solutions and they want a longterm sustainable solution to resolve their problem. The government and responsible authorities should help the poor people to move forward with their livelihood and it is their responsibility to lift the people up, he noted.