The state of what was once “the granary of the east”

The state of what was once “the granary of the east”

Written by Staff Writer

16 Apr, 2019 | 9:24 am

COLOMBO (News 1st): With the end of the paddy harvesting season and the dawn of the new year, the guaranteed price promised to paddy farmers still remains unresolved.

The problem

Farmers in Galenbidunuwewa, Anuradhapura claim that their state of livelihood has gone from bad to worse because of the shortcomings in the state paddy purchasing process.

“They allocate a price only after they purchase goods from the black market vendors.” said a farmer

The farmers have no choice but to sell their crops to wholesale traders at a price lower than the guaranteed price. While the farmers in Galenbidunuwewa are suffering in this way, the farmers in Karuwalagaswewa, Puttalam are left with no choice but to store their harvest in their houses.

These farmers have been deprived of a proper new year celebration as a result of the authorities’ inability to fulfil their responsibilities and promises.

“There is no new year for us this year. Look there is no space for a visitor to come and sit inside our house. There is paddy everywhere.”

“We have been made very helpless. My husband sleeps outside the house. The children and I sleep in the kitchen.”

The Paddy Marketing Board is the main government body responsible for purchasing, selling, supplying and distributing paddy and rice. However, the Paddy Marketing Board is only purchasing less than 3% of the country’s annual harvest.

By May 14, 2018:

556,874 Kg of unsold paddy from 4 seasons were still in possession of the board. The National Audit office later revealed that such a situation arose due to the lack of a proper plan on purchasing and selling paddy.

Total debt of the Paddy Marketing Board to the Treasury by the end of 2017 was Rs. 17965.3 million with an interest of Rs. 623.9 million. 192.46 metric tons of paddy went waste from June to July due to poor storage standards.     Data provided by the Audit department.

Over the past six years,

The government has incurred losses amounting to more than Rs. 4100 million due to the sale of paddy stocks deviating from the procurement process, based on orders of top officials of the Paddy Marketing Board. The loss to the government through the sale of paddy for animal feed should also be brought to attention.

In 2014/15 the government incurred a loss of Rs. 2483.61 million through the sale of paddy to nine private companies during the Yala and Maha season and Rs. 5.95 million by selling paddy to W.M.Mendis and Company.

While operations pertaining to the paddy stocks of the nation is severely interfered by certain politicians, officials, and private companies, the audit report further revealed that the government imported rice instead of conducting an investigation on this issue.

Although the loss incurred by the Paddy Marketing Board during the past few years amounted to Rs. 7, 889.77 million, it is unfortunate that there is no decision taken so far on the officials who spearheaded a major state organization.

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