War-torn areas of Sri Lanka are witnessing strong economic growth as opportunities increase, and the country's overall economic prospects are improving as a result.
It's just one of the many dividends of peace being reaped in post-war Sri Lanka: the increased availability of vegetables.
Farmers in North and East provinces are growing more because vendors in the south can now access their produce. Consumers are seeing lower prices as a result.
And economic growth in the former epicentre of the war is contributing to overall economic progress in Sri Lanka, which last year posted its highest growth rate in decades.
"During wartime, I had limited my cultivation. I grew vegetables to be sold only in the North," B. Sabaratnam, 65, a farmer from Jaffna, told Khabar South Asia. "Now, I can expand my cultivations. In fact, I started cultivating a plot of land that had remained abandoned for years."
According to statistics released by the Finance Ministry of Sri Lanka, contributions from North and East provinces helped Sri Lanka's agricultural sector grow by 11.9% in 2011, up from 11.2% growth the year before.
Since the end of the war, farmers have put 104,717 more hectares of land into paddy and vegetable cultivation, the ministry said.
Finance Ministry Secretary P.B. Jayasundara said that produce from the North and East, particularly onions and potatoes, accounted for 20% of total agricultural output last year.
Sri Lanka's industrial and service sectors also grew by 10.3% and 8.6% respectively last year, with a significant contribution from the North and East, Jayasundara said.
"In the overall context, Sri Lanka's economy grew by 8.3% last year, the highest in six decades," he told a news conference in early June.
Post-war growth in the agricultural sector is visible through brisk business taking place at the country's largest wholesale vegetable market in Dambulla, a town in Central Province.
Dambulla Economic Centre Manager Lasanatha Sanjeewa said he receives 50-70 lorry loads daily of vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, onions, green chilies, long beans and beetroots from the North alone.
"Normally, we used to get only 10-15 lorry loads a day during harvesting times prior to the end of the war. The improved cultivations have brought benefits to consumers in terms of low vegetable prices. Prices of some vegetables have been halved due to the production coming from the North. We also receive grapes cultivated in Jaffna," he told Khabar.
Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne said fish production increased by 40% in 2010 in these two provinces.
"Fishermen were not allowed to carry out fishing freely in the sea off these two provinces during wartime. Now, we have lifted all the restrictions. Fishermen do fishing. In 2010, the total fish production in the two provinces was 125,840 tonnes. In 2011, the amount increased to 155,690 tonnes in 2011," Senaratne told Khabar.
The Finance Ministry also reported 9.3% growth in the construction sector in the two provinces since the war ended. As many as 267 branches of various banks and financial institutions have been set up there since May 2009.
N. Kuganathan, another farmer from the North, said that the availability of fertiliser and pesticides in the North is another boost to agriculture.
"When the war was raging, we did not get these agricultural inputs from the south. Now, we receive them in the market. It is a boost. We have developed new contacts with Sinhalese and Muslim traders from the south, who come to procure our products. We are happy about such interaction among communities," he said.
S. Dhanapala, a Sinhalese trader, said that he goes to the North during harvesting times to purchase fresh vegetables and fruits.
"Jaffna farmers produce the best kind of vegetables. They are very enterprising. I am happy to do improved business with them. The end of war has brought benefits to all of us," he told Khabar.
Despite the surge in economic activities, political leaders in the North believe more should be done to improve living conditions of people in the war-torn provinces.
"In some areas, people are yet to be resettled. Resettled people in some parts of the North have increased their agricultural and fishing activities," M.K. Sivajilingam, leader of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation, told Khabar. "Still, they lag behind … due to lack of development. The government should do more for these people."