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27 m pepper plants to be distributed

Twenty seven million pepper plants will be distributed with the aim of promoting the cultivation of this key export crop, says primary industries minister Daya Gamage.

According to him, 18 million of these plants will be distributed to selected cultivators.

He was participating in the budget debate on the votes of his ministry yesterday (22).

Mr. Gamage said the government intended to raise export revenue to 50 per cent of the national economy with the aim of paying back the massive debt left behind by the previous regime.

The minister said he was happy that a major foundation has been laid towards achieving economic productivity.

The government intends turning spices and other export crops into the second highest foreign exchange earner after garments, he said.

Setting up of cinnamon processing factories and training 10,000 personnel have been planned in order to export value-added cinnamon to 100 countries, said the minister.

Also, research is underway together with five universities to determine the therapeutic value of cinnamon, he added.

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