ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rice prices have fallen, partly helped by greater competition from revived smaller mills that were going out of business, Economic and Public Distribution Minister Harsha de Silva said.
"The selling price of popular varieties of rice like Samba have fallen from 108 a kilogram to about 95 rupees now," de Silva said.
"While it is newsworthy when food prices go up, not much attention is paid when prices go down."
De Silva said his ministry had helped revive mills that were closing down and provided competition to an oligopoly that was setting prices.
He said about 300 small rice millers were now supplying rice under a brand called ‘Shakthi’ which was under Sri Lanka standards.
"Though the market share is small, the intervention has helped keep prices stable," he said.
He said farmers were given prices of about 39 to 41 rupees per kilogram, and now about 41 to 43 rupees a kilogram.
De Silva said the bagged rice complied with Sri Lanka Standards. Each bag also had QR code a batch number, date and co-operative and the miller which was traceable.
"This is a paradigm shift," he said.
The rice was available and Sathosa and key super markets.
"We cannot keep up with demand," de Silva said. "We sell at Keells, we have orders from Cargills, Softlogic."
The brand had only 1 percent of the market, but had a impact beyond its size. He said state run Paddy Marketing Board also had 6 to 7 percent of the market.
Talks were underway whether to raise guaranteed price. (Colombo/July30/2019)