ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will spend 10 billion rupees to purchase paddy and produce 40,000 metric tonnes of rice to give two million poor families free of charge, Cabinet spokesman Bandula Gunawardana said.
The government will buy 61,600 metric tonnes of paddy to produce 40,000 MT of rice.
The rice will be produced by small millers.
“According to data from the Departments of Agriculture and Agrarian Development, in maha season 2022/23 there can be a surplus amount of paddy,” Gunawardana told reporters at the weekly cabinet briefing on Tuesday.
“Because of that it has been identified the need of purchasing an additional stock of rice than the traditional amount,”
Under the District Secretaries and Divisional Secretaries, rice will be distributed among the identified Samurdhi beneficiaries including low-income earners using the existing system and the Ministry of Women, Child Affairs and Social Empowerment will coordinate the District Secretaries and issue necessary instructions to them, a statement from the President’s media division said.
“The total estimated cost is 8,040 million rupees, which includes, 6,200 million for paddy purchase, 290 million for rice drying, 590 million for milling charges, 200 million for packing costs,.160 million as additional payments to mill owners, and 600 million for transportation,” the statement said.
“However, the program’s estimated cost will vary depending on market fluctuations, and a budget provision of around.10 billion rupees will be allocated to be used if the need arises,”
“Given the country’s monthly rice requirement of approximately 210,000 metric tons, it has been observed that the next Maha season may see a paddy surplus. As a result, in order to protect both the paddy farmer and the consumer, the government must intervene in the purchase of a specific amount of paddy during the 2022/23 season”.
Sri Lanka’s Maha 2021 rough rice harvest hit by a chemical fertilizer ban had dropped 40 percent from a year earlier to 1.8 million metric tonnes.
In the 2020/2021 the paddy harvest was 1,862,901 metric tonnes, down from 3,061,394 in 2020, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told parliament last year.
However, Sri Lanka had a good Yala harvest and there were also imports which helped boost supplies and there was now an excess. (Colombo/ Jan 17/2022)