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In the absence of competition from PMB, large rice mill owners snap up paddy output for a song

By Karunarathne Gamage

Large scale rice mill owners were buying paddy at low rates as the government had not allocated enough money to purchase paddy, committee member of the Govi Aragala Campaign, R.K Indrananda, told The Island yesterday.He said that the yield had reduced by 50 percent this season due to the fertiliser shortages.

“The government is not interested in buying our paddy. Farmers and consumers suffer as a result. Over the past few decades, successive governments have weakened the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB), which does not have enough storage facilities.

Successive governments have allowed the PMB to crumble, leaving ample room for several large scale rice mill owners to flourish, he said.

“Mill owners are buying paddy in 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 said that imported rice was not suitable for human consumption, the Govi Aragala Campaign leader said. “This is a serious statement. We have imported a lot of rice in recent months. Millions of people have consumed the rice. Amaraweera said that the imported rice had been produced by using toxic fertiliser. This is an absurd statement. Amaraweera should have opposed the import of such substandard rice. He didn’t do anything and now he is telling us we ate toxic food for months. What a country we are living in,” Indrananda said.

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