Win-win solution for producer and
It was reported last week that the Government has
taken a decision to stock the paddy harvest of the North, East
and North Central provinces in the Gampaha district. This is a
wise move. The harvest could be transported in bulk to Gampaha
and milled with the assistance of small and medium size millers
there. There is an ideal centre at Maradagahamula to locate
It was also found that there are enough unutilized storage
facilities in the Gampaha district. This would do away with the
need for extra facilities at the three above mentioned rice
producing districts. Once these facilities are established and
functioning Gampaha would be able to supply almost the entire
demand of the Western Province, i.e. Colombo, Gampaha and
Kalutara districts. No doubt this would help lower the selling
price of rice in Colombo and the adjoining districts.
With the Paddy Marketing Board buying sufficient stocks at
guaranteed price the implementation of this scheme would benefit
both the producer and the consumer.
It is also reported that the bumper harvests are being reaped
in the North and East. This no doubt is a great boon to the
farmers of these areas whose paddy lands were laid waste all
these years due to the war. With the release of all paddy lands
back to the farmers, we could now expect markets to be flooded
with the extra harvests contributing to lowering of rice prices.
With the concession of Government subsidies now reaching these
farmers, the country can expect not only bumper paddy production
but also high yields in other crops that these areas were famous
for in the past.
It looks as if the country will be well served by its
agriculture sector soon with the end of the war opening up large
vistas in this regard. Time was when the East formed the rice
bowl of Sri Lanka which produced the bulk of the rice supplies.
The industrious nature of the Northern farmer was also an
important factor that resulted in the heavy output of
agriculture produce. Not only that, paddy cultivation is also
booming in the tracts that once formed the border villages with
the end to terrorism.
Paddy lands that were abandoned are now converted into lush
green fields with golden sheaves of paddy. The Paddy Marketing
Board has already allocated Rs. 9,000 million to purchase the
Yala harvest in Anuradhapura. The rehabilitation of the many
irrigation schemes too is bound to bring more areas under paddy
With the Government now offering a stable guaranteed price
for paddy, the farmers appear to be a contended lot. Add to
this, the involvement of the private sector too in the purchase
of paddy there is no risk of the farmers having to destroy their
crop as in the past. Our farmer still forms the backbone of the
nation and as such is given pride of the place by President
Mahinda Rajapaksa who has doled out a generous fertilizer
subsidy and other concessions for the purchase of tractors and
agricultural implements to the farmer.
It appears Sri Lanka is on the road to self sufficiency in
rice now that all paddy lands in the country are being put under
the plough. Therefore every incentive should be given to the
farmer to increase production. Rice imports should not be done
haphazardly as this would hurt the farmer. Steps should also be
taken to stop the exploitation of the farmer by middlemen and
The farmer should also not be made a pawn in political games.
We are here referring to the recent burning of some paddy crops
in Amparai in a bid to show the frustration of farmers allegedly
unable to dispose of their paddy harvests.
It was later revealed that a political hand was behind the
whole episode to embarrass the Government.
Steps should also be taken to prevent exodus of the next
generation of our farmers into other vocations. This is already
taking place in other traditional sectors such as fisheries.
This would have a telling effect on the country’s
agricultural production. Agriculture should be made a more
rewarding and attractive proposition by the introduction of
modern methods as is done in other countries. This would
somewhat prevent the progeny of farmers seeking out greener
pastures in this modern age. If not we will lose our
agricultural base and all food crops will have to be imported at