The crop forecast report of the Department of Agriculture, reveals that the rice production in Maha 2016/17 and Yala 2017 would be enough for just 7.72 months. The cultivation of rice has also suffered from various factors including drought and floods.
amount of compensation in the history of the board was paid in the last Maha season, to farmers badly affected by the drought. He said more than Rs 5.2 billion was paid to 523,336 farmers covering more than 352,903 hectares in nine provinces.
The largest amount was paid to 113,225 farmers in the Anuradhapura District amounting to more than Rs 1.132 billion, followed by Kurunegala District, where Rs 1.045 billion was paid to 104,594 farmers.
Mohammed Rizwan Hameem, chairman of the Co- operative Wholesale Establishment, the only government institution importing rice, said, in addition to the first stock of 10,000 MT of white nadu imported from India, another 70,000 MT of white nadu will also be imported this month. In the next few months, 100,000 MT of rice will be imported every month from India, Pakistan, and Myanmar. Mr Hameem noted that by December 31, 500,000 MT of rice would have been imported.
“About 200,000 MT of white nadu and 100,000 MT each of samba, white raw and broken rice will be imported,” he said.
Meanwhile, the All- Island Farmers Federation, national organiser, Namal Karunaratne, charged that incompetent agricultural policies had resulted in the decline in rice production. He said government policies discouraged local farmers.
He said that the rice mafia is mainly controlled by politicians.
Mr Karunaratne also fears a severe a shortage of seed paddy, which will adversely affect the next Maha season, as the government lacked a mechanism to buy stocks from farmers.
“The quality of rice imported from other countries is also lower compared with local varieties so they are inexpensive,’’ he said. He added that sometimes vendors mix local and imported rice varieties to make a quick buck.