Although the Government offered to purchase a kilo of paddy at Rs. 75 rate, the farmers have refused to sell paddy at a rate below Rs. 120 per kilo, leaders of farmer unions stressed yesterday (26), at a media briefing held near Parakrama Samudra paddy field, Polonnaruwa.
While rejecting the price quoted by the Government, they also queried whether the rice that would be imported is genuinely organic.
Jagath Arunakeerthi, President of Parakrama Samudra Scheme Agrarian Union said that when calculated, the farmers only receive about Rs 50,000 per hectare from the allocated compensation for crop losses by the Government. “However, the farmers have spent about Rs. 300,000 per hectare. Therefore, providing compensation of Rs. 25 for a kg of paddy to cover that loss due to organic fertiliser is a complete rip-off,” he alleged.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the National Agrarian Union, Anuradha Tennakoon said that Minister of Agriculture, Mahindananda Aluthgamage should either resign or be removed and a qualified Minister should be appointed instead.
He alleged that the compensation given and which was promised is a trap to divert the farmers’ attention from their real losses and urged the Ministry not to do that.
“In general, around Rs. 150,000 is needed to cultivate a hectare of land and according to the Ministry of Agriculture a hectare yields 2.58 metric tonnes of paddy, however, due to the fertiliser issue, the yield has reduced by 40 per cent, which means the farmer will only get 1,148 kg from his harvest. According to the Government, it was said that Rs. 25 will be given as compensation for 1 kg of paddy whereas the farmer will be compensated with around only Rs. 28,000.
“Compensating farmers with Rs. 25 for the loss of 1 kg of paddy is unfair and the Minister of Agriculture should consider all other farmers in the country for compensation,” Tennakoon said.
Meanwhile, the National Organiser of All Ceylon Farmers’ Federation, Namal Karunaratne noted that all paddy, corn, and vegetable, farmers should be compensated with a minimum of Rs. 100,000 for an acre of land.
“The Minister of Agriculture ordered to buy 1 kg of paddy for Rs. 75 from the farmer whereas the President already said it should be bought for Rs. 95. Farmers won’t be able to follow directives from two persons and we need the assurance from one person regarding the price. Selling paddy at Rs. 75 will not cover any production expenses of the farmer,” he added.
(Source: Ceylon Today – By Eunice Ruth and Anuradha Vishwanath)