Farmers oppose move to import rice

Farmers oppose move to import rice

Farmers oppose move to import rice

Written by Staff Writer

14 Dec, 2016 | 7:47 pm

Farmers and local producers alike have expressed their displeasure over the government’s decision to import rice at a time when rice stocks continue to remain at storage facilities.

A kilogramme of Samba rice in the retail market is priced at Rs.90 while a kilogramme of Nadu rice is priced between Rs.84 and Rs.86.

The price of a kilogramme of Kekulu Rice is  priced between Rs.80  and Rs.83 rupees while the price of a kilogramme of Keeri Samba Rice is sold at a range between Rs.112  to Rs.145.

In this backdrop, the government, during the recent harvesting season purchased rice at a certified price.

Currently, around 200,000 tonnes of rice is being held at government storage facilities. However, as there was a sharp decrease in the paddy harvest during the past season, the cabinet of ministers decided to hold these stocks of paddy as reserves.

Minister of Rural Economic Affairs P. Harrison on December 12, 2016 had expressed the following views:

“… There is a price increase of rice. At some places a kilogramme of rice is being sold at a price between Rs.80 and Rs.85. Some traders are making use of this situation. We hope to import around 5000 to 10,000 metric tonnes of rice to the country in order to ease the burden on the consumers …”

With measures taken to import rice, what would be the fate of the 200,000 metric tonnes of rice currently held by the government ?

National organiser of the All Ceylon Peasants Federation Namal Karunaratne commenting on the issue expressed the following views:

“… The paddy stocks held by the government are never converted to rice. They hold on to those stocks and after a few months release them as animal feed. They condemn the stocks and sell it for a lesser price. But it comes back as stocks for human consumption after commissions are made. The local consumer are being extorted through this …”

The government is attempting to import rice once again while previous malpractices relating to the importation of rice, are still being probed.

An investigation is taking place citing that when Sathosa imported rice to the country in 2014 / 2015 the government suffered a loss of a staggering Rs.8 billion.

In the latest development, speaking to News 1st Minister of Rural Economy, P. Harison noted that a decision has been reached to retain 5000 metric tonnes of paddy and release the rest of the stored paddy into the market, in a bid to control the prices of rice.

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