By Karunarathne Gamage
Owners of large-scale rice mills were buying paddy at low prices because the government had not allocated enough money to buy paddy, said Govi Aragala campaign committee member RK Indrananda. The Island He said the yield has dropped by 50% this season due to fertilizer shortages.
“The government is not interested in buying our paddy. Farmers and consumers suffer. Over the past decades, successive governments have weakened the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB), which does not have enough storage facilities.
Successive governments let the PMB crumble, leaving enough room for several large-scale rice mill owners to thrive, he said.
“Mill owners buy paddy from Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee at low prices. The government says it has no money. When we met Minister Mahinda Amaraweera a few months ago, he insisted that enough funds had been allocated. Now he says there is no money,” Indrananda said.
Minister Amaraweera recently stated that the imported rice was not fit for human consumption, the Govi Aragala said the campaign leader. “This is a serious statement. We have imported a lot of rice in recent months. Millions of people have consumed rice. Amaraweera said the imported rice was produced using toxic fertilizers. This is an absurd statement. Amaraweera should have opposed importing this low quality rice. He did nothing and now he is telling us that we have been eating poisonous food for months. What country do we live in,” said Indrananda .