Sri Lanka is to import to import 300000 metric tonnes of rice, the largest stock in a decade to meet the shortage expected this year due to ill advised green farming policy .
The economically troubled government has committed a major blunder by banning chemical fertilizers heeding to ill advised and foolish policy without preparing farmers, prompting a massive surge in rice and its prices and worries about shortages, several agriculture experts said.
This ill conceived green farming concept confined to Sri Lanka which is not being practiced fully by any other country in the world has forced the country’s trade ministry to import the largest stock of rice setting a record for the first time in a decade, official data revealed.
The ministry is now taking measures to import 300000 metric tonnes of rice with a cabinet approval granted in its first meeting this year held on Monday 10 spending around US$ 134 million amidst a severe dollar crisis at present.
This stock is sufficient for the peoples consumption for only three weeks, economic analysts said adding that it was unclear as to how the government is going to find dollars for imports.
According to Central Bank statistics the country has imported the largest stock of 748000 metric tons of rice at a cost of $ 301 million previously in the past decade during the period of 2011 -2020.
The government will grant permission for local importers also to bring down rice as the treasury has reduced the tax on rice to 25 cents from Rs 5 per kilogramme, Trade Minister Bandula Gunawadena said.
Under this set up an additional stock of 500000 mt of rice will be imported via State Trading Corporation with the aim of maintaining the price of rice at the level Rs.105 per kilogramme, he pointed out.
Meanwhile around 500 containers of rice were still stuck at the Colombo board waiting for clearance due to dollar issues, he added.
According to agriculture experts in the research field, it was revealed that the percentage of paddy harvest would reduce by a percentage of 21.5-31 percent if the fertilizers are not used.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has stopped the importation of chemical fertilizers, due to the negative consequences caused on human lives through pollution of lakes, canals, and groundwater outweighing the profit.
“In the year 2020, the country had a record amount of harvest and 783,000 hectares of rice had been cultivated out of a target of 846,000 hectares, higher than last year’s 752,000 hectares.
Sri Lanka produced 3.051 million metric tonnes of paddy in 2019 in the Maha season and another 1.751 million metric tonnes in the minor Yala season.
Every year farmers expect 3.5 million tonnes of paddy harvest. However, it was exceeded in 2020. They got more than 5 million tonnes of paddy harvest .