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Sri Lanka to probe domestic maize collector racket

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Consumer Affairs Authority has been instructed probe a racket to push up domestic maize prices just as the harvests are due to come to the market, the President’s office said.

Sri Lanka blocks imports of maize through tight licensing and import duties allowing an oligopoly of maize collectors and farmers to push prices up, critics have charged.

In many countries, high yield maize has made poultry a cheap source of protein for the less affluent.

Secretary to the President P B Jayasundera, had ordered the CAA to “immediately launch an investigation on attempts to create an artificial scarcity of maize despite the availability of adequate stocks.”

“It had been revealed that intermediaries who gain unreasonable profit through trading of maize are behind this sinister attempt,” the office of the President said in a statement.

“Information has been received that their motive is to increase the price of chicken by creating a non-existing scarcity during the upcoming festival season.”

At a meeting at the Presidential Secretariat with representatives of maize farming associations, officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Authority ways to protect farmers and consumers have been met.

In the current Maha season 70,000 acres of maize have been cultivated which would give 300,000 metric tonnes of maize, which has not reached the market yet.

Farmers are being paid a floor price of 50 rupees per kilogram.

In the past, while maize prices have been pushed up with the help of import duties to give profits to farmers and poultry farmers who have little political clout had been squeezed by price controls, critics have said.

Sri Lanka’s Consumer Affairs Authority had against slammed price controls of 430 rupees per kilogram of chicken. (Colombo/Mar11/2020)