Minister of Agriculture, Mahindananda Aluthgamage pledged to retail one kilo of rice at Rs. 97 by April this year, even at a loss to the Government.
Addressing the Media at the Agriculture Ministry, Aluthgamage urged farmers to sell their paddy to the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB). He explained, under a new national action plan which was initiated last Friday (5), to purchase paddy from the farmers from 8 March 2021 up to 7 April 2021, regional Managers of the PMB were given funds to purchase paddy from farmers. Each of them was given five million rupees on a daily basis to purchase the paddy from cultivators.
“This is a National Plan to purchase paddy and sanction the country’s paddy reserves”, he said.
He said that the Agrarian Service Officers were deployed to the homes of these farmers to pay them on the spot and purchase their paddy. The Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) has already received 5,000 MT of paddy.
He said that the Cabinet had also taken a decision to permit the PMB to enter the competitive field and purchase paddy from farmers at the current retail price, Aluthgamage said.
“Our main aim is to maintain paddy reserve of 300,000 MT. Thereby, even if the PMB purchases raw paddy at Rs 55 and after processing, the rice would be sold at Rs 97. The government is willing to bear the loss. Their main aim is to prevent a further increase in the price of rice.
The crops would be harvested by April. By end of April the Government would be able to have a paddy reserve of 300,000 MT, he said. He urged farmers to participate in the national action plan as it provided them with the necessary fertiliser and water for paddy cultivation.
Touching on the corn crops Minister Aluthgamage said that 155,000 hectares of corn had also been cultivated. The national consumption of corn was 500,000 MT. However, only 380,000 MT had been cultivated. There is a need for at least another 180,000 MT of corn. He said that the Government had regulated the price of corn at Rs 55 per kg. “The Poultry Product Association has informed us that they were willing to purchase corn at that price,” he said pointing out that the Government would only import corn if a shortage was experienced after the crops were harvested. That too would be as animal feed.
He further said, if the price of corn increases to Rs 100 per kg then the price of chicken would increase to Rs 500 per kg. The Minister said that measures had also been taken to regulate the price of chicken at Rs 400.
(Source: Ceylon Today – By Dilanthi Jayamanne)