Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has directed the Department of Agriculture to purchase seed paddy grown during the Yala cultivation season for Rs. 150 per kilogram (kg).
Noting that the current Agriculture Department price for seed paddy is Rs. 140 per kg, which is unfair to farmers, an Agriculture Ministry official stated that it was decided to raise it to Rs. 150. He also stated that Amaraweera will soon submit a proposal to the Cabinet of Ministers for Cabinet approval on the relevant price revision.
He said that the amount of seed paddy obtained from the Government-owned seed paddy farm is 10-12% of the total requirement and that the remaining amount is procured from paddy farmers. As it is essential to ensure that seed paddy purchased from farmers is in accordance with the relevant quality, he said that officials of the Agriculture Department have been deployed to check the quality of seed paddy harvest.
Meanwhile, claiming that he has received information that some farmers who cultivated seed paddy during the Yala season are selling their harvest to traders at a higher price for manufacturing rice, Amaraweera has said that seed paddy should not be sold to traders to manufacture rice as there is a possibility of a shortage of seed paddy in the coming Maha season.
Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector, particularly paddy cultivation, has suffered a major setback since April 2021, when the Cabinet decided to prohibit the import and use of chemical fertilizers and agrochemicals in response to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s proposal. Farmers have since complained that they have not received the expected harvest, despite the use of organic fertilizers provided by the government. Despite strong opposition from farmers and agronomists, the government lifted the ban in November of last year, but the country still faces a severe shortage of fertilizers and agrochemicals.
In this context, the Academics’ Movement to Safeguard Agriculture in Sri Lanka (AMSASL) recently stated that if the country is unable to produce enough seed paddy during the Yala season, it will be impossible to cultivate paddy even if farmers receive a certain amount of chemical fertilizer in the coming Maha season. AMSASL representatives added that, in the current situation, the government and other relevant authorities should pay special attention to the production of seed paddy needed for the upcoming seasons.