Janaka Wakkumbura, State Minister of Export Promotion in the Rajapaksa Government says that it has been decided to allow the residents of Meemure village adjacent to the Knuckles Forest Reserve to cultivate cardamom in selected areas of the Knuckles mountain range.
He was speaking to the media after his visit to Meemure on the instructions of the President Colonel (Rtd) Rajapaksa.
A kilo of cardamom in the market costs Rs. 20,000 (US $ 10). Prices have risen by about 150% due to non-importation of cardamom and declining cardamom production in the country.
Cardamom is mostly grown in the highlands. The Minister said that the areas where cardamom was once cultivated have now been declared as a reserve and therefore the public has not been allowed to harvest cardamom in the forest reserve.
In a recent conversation with the villagers, the people of Meemure informed President Rajapaksa that cardamom cultivation could not be practiced in the forest areas without permission.
Knuckles is under the control of the Forest Department of Sri Lanka and the villagers around Meemure have agreed to enter the forest reserve previously cultivated and harvested by the Forest Department and to cultivate cardamom in the reserve without harming the forest, said Minister Janaka Wakkumbura.
He said that the Forest Department has agreed to provide cardamom plants for this purpose and that the Forest Department is preparing a program to verify the identity of the Meemure residents who enter the reserves for Wakkumbura cultivation.