Rice imports to contain hoarding by millers, reduce price - Minister | Daily News

Rice imports to contain hoarding by millers, reduce price - Minister

The government has decided to import rice stocks as a temporary measure to reduce prices for consumers, Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told Parliament yesterday (22).

Aluthgamage also observed that using organic fertilizers would in no way reduce the paddy harvest in the country.

Minister Aluthgamage made these observations when Samagi Jana Balawegaya MP Thushara Indunil questioned the Minister on the government’s decision to import rice.

Minister Aluthgamage observed, “Last year our paddy production in both Yala and Maha seasons were five million metric tonnes of paddy.

 When we convert this to rice, it is three million metric tonnes. The rice mafia was challenged by our government and we were able to keep rice prices stable. Though there are enough paddy stocks, the paddy is hidden by the paddy-mafia. Paddy mill owners earn Billions by increasing the price of paddy. These mill owners make a profit of twenty to thirty rupees per kilo. These people are making Billions. Now the farmers have sold their paddy and the farmers have no issue. That’s why we decided to import as the price of rice in the market is very high. This is mill owners resort to. The paddy taken by the Paddy Marketing Board in the recent past has been given to Sathosa and the Co-operatives. Farmers were given a fair price for their paddy. If we want to reduce the price of rice in the market to do justice to consumers, we will have to import rice temporarily.”

MP Indunil asked if the rice imported to the country are cultivated organically. Indunil also asked if the government would continue importing rice if the paddy harvest deteriorate when using organic fertilizers. Replying to the MP, Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage stated that the use of organic fertilizers will not reduce the paddy harvest in the country.

“Organic fertilizer does not reduce the country’s paddy harvest. These experts who say it would are people who stand up for companies that import chemical fertilizers. It is because of these fertilizers that kidney diseases have become a major issue in our country. We will be using organic fertilizers from the next Season. We are still in the Yala Season. If we import rice like this after the next Maha Season, then it will be a problem. In this Season we are using chemical fertilizers anyway.” the Minister said.

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