The rice mafia and ‘missing’ paddy stocks

The rice mafia and ‘missing’ paddy stocks

The rice mafia and ‘missing’ paddy stocks

Written by Staff Writer

19 Dec, 2016 | 10:07 pm

“There is a mafia which is concealing stocks of rice”,  claims Minister of Rural Economic Affairs P. Harrison. According to data from the Department of Agriculture:

2015/16 Maha Season – 2.5 million metric tonnes of paddy produced. 2016 Yala Season – 1.3 million metric tonnes of paddy produced.  2016 Harvest – close to 5 million metric tonnes of paddy reaped. 2016 rice production – 2.7 million metric tonnes of rice produced from the stocks of paddy

The annual requirement for rice in Sri Lanka is 2.2 million metric tonnes

But…

Why did the price for rice increase when there are sufficent stocks of rice to last till April next year?

“Traders who store paddy want to take maximum advantage of this opportunity, so they have stocked up their paddy in a bid to sell it at a high price. We have been informed that some mill owners have created a scarcity of rice with the aim of hiking up the prices.” Minister P. Harrison.

“Why is this happening? Have the prices of rice in the international market increased? Well that wouldn’t have an impact on the rice in Sri Lanka would it?” questioned UPFA Parliamentarian Vasudeva Nanayakkara.  MP Vasudeva said that “the doors were opened” for a few large-scale companies in the country to purchase massive stocks of paddy. He pointed out that the government’s stocks were insufficient to release to the market and control the price and that the government intervened and curtailed the purchasing of paddy. According to the UPFA MP, in the midst of this, the stocks of paddy fell into the hands of a few large-scale traders.

National Organiser for the All Ceylon Peasants Federation Namal Karunaratne says that there should be “around 2 million metric tonnes of paddy stocked up in the country.” Karunaratne pointed out that the government has close to just 200,000 of the 2 million metric tonnes of paddy in their possession.“So the remaining stocks of paddy has to be in the country somewhere. Where is it?” he questioned. The ACPF National Organiser also said that the large-scale mill owners have over 15 metric tonnes of paddy in their possession.

“The government is protecting these large scale mill owners. Why? Because only then do the ministers in the government get their commissions” he added

Meanwhile, Minister P. Harrison says: “These stocks of paddy cannot be released like releasing cattle from their shed.” According to the Minister, the cabinet has granted approval and the Paddy Marketing Board has called for the required price ranges. He also said that the government has taken measures to release 50% of the stocks of paddy of those who received high prices. “I think we are initially planning to import around 10,000 metric tonnes of paddy from overseas, both Samba and Nadu. We hope to sell a kilo of rice at a minimum of Rs. 50 to Rs. 60”, said Minister Harrison.

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