A special media programme was held today at the Ministry of Agriculture with the participation of Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage and State Minister Sashindra Rajapaksa at which both Ministers emphasized that the opposition leader Sajith Premadasa’s accusations against the National Programme of paddy purchasing is totally baseless and disruptive. Recently the opposition leader had told to the media that the Government is trying to curtail fertilizer subsidy given to farmer under the guise of paddy purchasing. Duri the past regime, guaranteed price of paddy has been Rs. 32 per 1kg. The Ministers queried whether the Sajith Premadasa had not been with that government. The Ministers at the media discussion requested the opposition leader not to mislead the people by telling lies whereby indirectly helping paddy and rice Mafia and not to take political advantage from this national Programme. The Government’s allocation to purchase paddy during the coming Maha Season amanted to Rs.23,000 Million being the largest allocation so far made by any Government under which arrangements have been made to purchase paddy through Paddy Marketing Board, District Secretaries and Cooperative Societies. Even at present in districts where harvesting commenced paddy, purchasing continues through collective mechanism jointly implementing by the Department of Agrarian Development, Agriculture Research and Production Assistants and Development Officers. Farmers who are not contributing to the Government’s National Programme of Paddy Purchasing have to buy fertilizer at Rs. 4000 per 50kg pack during the next season. They will not receive benefits of Agri Insurance too. This National Programme of Paddy Purchasing is implemented in keeping with a policy decision taken by the Government.
Expressing his views on this occasion the Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage stated. At the last presidential election we promised the farmer to offer a guaranteed price of Rs. 50 paddy and the consumer to buy rice at the guaranteed price of Rs. 97 per 1 kilo. The programme is now in place within the paddy growing districts. During the coming New Year festive season consumer could buy rice at the same price of Rs.97 per 1 kg. Farmers receiving benefits of the fertilizer subsidy extended their fullest co-operation in this Endeavour. We have requested the farmers to give 1000kg of paddy to the Government under National Paddy Purchasing Programme. The opposition Leader had threaten us that he would come out to the street with farmers if the fertilizer subsidy is curtailed. Under the previous regime during which Mr.Premadasa held a leadingportfolio, the guaranteed price of paddy had been Rs.32 per 1kg. Where did he live then? We are buying dried paddy at Rs. 50 per 1kg of Nadhu and Samna at Rs. 52 per 1 kg. Accordingly the farmer received satisfactory price now.
All inputs requested – fertilizer, water, agri insurance are given to farmer free of charge while the market price of one fertilizer bag is Rs. 4000. Farmers who do not contribute to the government Paddy Purchasing programme have to buy fertilizer for the next cultivation season at the prevailing market price of Rs.4000 per 50kg bag. The guaranteed price we have offered is very reasonable. We buy moist paddy, too. What we are telling is not curtailing fertilizer subsidy in any way but the farmer not contributing to this National Programme having to buy fertilizer at the market price. The people of this country should understand that what opposition leader is doing nothing other than helping paddy and rice Mafia. We requested farmers to understand the reality.
Expressing his views State Minister Sashindra Rajapaksa stated, “Out of the country’s total paddy production of 3.0 MT Million we are going to buy on 0.3 MT Million – i.e. 10% of the country’s total harvest. Large scale Mill owners, Store owners purchasing is 30% . Then balanced quantity of 60% remains with the farmer to meet his consumption and seed requirement. Accordingly we are implementing this National Programme of Paddy Purchasing without any problem being caused to the farmer. The opposition seem to be implementing their repeating plan of disrupting Government’s Programme of Paddy Purchasing. We assure the farming community that we do not allow any room for anybody to disrupt the Government is paddy purchasing Programme. However we should remind the people of this country what opposition Leader is doing is misleading the people.