Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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President Allocates Rs. 500 Million for Paddy Purchase Amidst Ministry’s Financial Constraints

March 15, Colombo (LNW): In a significant move aimed at supporting farmers, Agriculture and Plantation Industry Minister Mahinda Amaraweera announced on Wednesday (13) that President Ranil Wickremesinghe has sanctioned Rs. 500 million to the Paddy Marketing Board for the purchase of paddy. This decision comes amidst challenges faced by the Ministry in securing funds from the Finance Ministry, which has so far been unresponsive to requests for Rs. 2 billion for paddy procurement during this Maha Season.

The allocated funds will facilitate the opening of at least 12 paddy stores across nine districts, including Hambantota, Monaragala, Ampara, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Kurunegala, Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, and Anuradhapura, starting from today (15). Additionally, Agriculture Minister Amaraweera has instructed the PMB Chairman to prepare another 100 paddy stores to be operationalized promptly for paddy procurement.

From tomorrow (16) onwards, warehouses including Kachchigal Ara, Weerawila, Dehigahalanda, Yodhakandiya, Aluthwewa, Weeragoda, Surangal, Manalpeddi, Nikaweratiya 2, Kilinochchiya, Park Road, Kilinochchi Economic Center, and Nochchiyagama will remain open for paddy transactions.

Despite facing reluctance from Finance Ministry officials, who did not respond positively to funding requests, the Paddy Marketing Board initiated paddy purchases by utilizing Rs. 250 million from the Farmer Trust Fund. Minister Amaraweera highlighted the direct involvement of the President in addressing this issue, emphasizing the urgent need for financial provision to support paddy procurement.

Under the government’s imposed maximum price regulations, paddy with 14 percent moisture content will be purchased at Rs. 105 per kilogram, while Samba and Keeri Samba varieties will be bought at Rs. 120 and Rs. 130 per kilogram respectively. Paddy exceeding 14 percent moisture content will be procured at Rs. 90 per kilogram, and Rs. 100 per kilogram for Samba and Keeri Samba.

Furthermore, the Paddy Marketing Board has initiated wholesale purchases of Red Nadu from farmers in the Hambantota District, utilizing a loan of Rs. 100 million from the Farmer Trust Fund. As of (12), approximately 75,000 kilograms of paddy have been procured, marking a significant step towards supporting agricultural livelihoods in the region.

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