Mr.P.Harrison , Minister of Agriculture , Rural Economic Affairs ,Livestock Development ,Irrigation and Fisheries & aquatic Resources Development addressing the Western Province “Govi Abiman “credit Award ceremony stated that the paddy purchasing price would be increased from this season up to Rs.40/- per 1Kg of Nadu and Rs.43/- per 1Kg of Samba.
Speaking further the Minister said that as a farmer born in Agricultural area, he would not be satisfied with the existing guaranteed price of paddy. Paddy purchasing has been a big issue at present .I saw agitation in several places in Polonnaruwa yesterday. Hundred Million Rupees have been made available to District Secretary, Polonnaruwa while 27 paddy purchasing centers have been opened. During two weeks, even a single paddy nut had not been brought whereas guaranteed price of Rs.38/- per 1Kg of Nadu and Rs.41/- per 1Kg of Samba have been offered. I acknowledge that it is not sufficient at all not as the Minister in charge of the subject of Agriculture but as the son of a farmer. They should have a reasonable price for their labor. At the same time we should be mindful of the consumer, too. Meanwhile businessmen are up in arms that they are unable to reduce the price of rice as they have purchased paddy at higher prices. Some says that it shall be Rs.100/- or Rs.120/- This should be corrected some day both in favor of the farmer and the consumer.
When I assumed duties as the Minister in charge of this subject I met and discussed with entrepreneurs, mill owners as well as farmers and formulated methodology acceptable to all . When “ Nadu “ is purchased at Rs.38 per1Kg, we fixed the price of rice at Rs.80/- per 1Kg. at the ratio of 2:1. Similarly when samba is purchased at Rs.41 per 1Kg to fix rice price of samba variety at Rs.85/- per 1kg . We are going to gazette this price formula from next April. Accordingly the maximum retail price (MRP) for “Nadu “ variety will be Rs.80/- per 1Kg while the MPR of “Samba” variety will be Rs.85/- per 1Kg, a methodology with which both the farmer and the consumer satisfied. Similarly we have decided to arrange forward trade agreements between the farmer and trading community. Let’s obtain data from the Dept. of customs regarding onion imported during the last year. I informed the HARTI to make available data relating to requirement of the country and the amount of annual consumption, and asked the Dept. of Agriculture to obtain information relating to the extent of onion cultivation and areas suitable for cultivation.
For example let’s assume that 100 businessmen are to import ‘B’ Onion and the number of average cultivation are 5000. Accordingly it is necessary to sign an agreement between farmers and ‘B’ Onion importing entrepreneurs which requires buying of the harvest of 500 farmers at
the prescribed prices. Anyone other than the above mentioned 100 businessmen will not be permitted to import ‘B’ onion and import licence are issued on the condition that they agree to buy the harvest of our farmers. A quota system is to be introduced for this purpose. They are allowed to import only the monthly requirement. It is only then that our farmers have faith in the business community who are bound to ensure their interest. The expenditure and profit margin will be calculated by the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute. This program is to be formulated based on their research findings. Several crops such as yam, onion, black gram, cowpea gram, green gram will be covered under the proposed program at the outset .Commissioner - General of Agrarian Development W.M.M.B.Weerasekara, Western Province Asst. Commissioner Saranga Sarachchandra and several officials of the Development of Agrarian Development were present on this occation.