Rice shortage in the next few weeks
Nov 27, 2012

The effects of the drought experienced in the country before the current rainy season has started to be felt in the economy with the paddy stocks in the country being depleted sharply, heralding an imminent rice shortage in the next few weeks, the Daily Mirror learns.

The Chairman of the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) K.B. Jayasingha admitted that only 129,000 metric tons of paddy was stocked at PMB stores while the monthly national consumption of rice was only 198,000 metric tons. The SMB stocks of paddy are sufficient only for ten days requirement of rice.

“The paddy stocks of the PMB had been depleted after the Board sold 187,000 metric tons to private rice mill owners and they refuse to re-sell rice to the CWE after milling as they can sell it in the open market at a higher price,” a source of the Trade and Commerce Ministry told Daily Mirror on condition of anonymity.

The other reason for the sharp decrease of paddy stocks of the PMB and the rice stocks in the CWE and private sector is the donation of 10,000 metric tons of rice to the World Food Programme (WFP) and sale of 200,000 metric tonns of rice to Dubai by the government.

The donation of 10,000 consignment of rice went to Zimbabwe through the WFP and 200,000 metric tons of Sri Lanka rice were purchased by a team of private buyers who arrived in Sri Lanka to select the varieties of rice and their quality, the source added.“A rice shortage in the next few weeks and a steady increase of price is unavoidable under the prevailing situation as the harvest of Maha season is expected only in January – February period. The only choice the government has is to import rice to fill the gap,” the source pointed out.

According to the Irrigation and Water Management Ministry the 14 month drought has affected 160,000 hectares of paddy fields in the North-Central, Eastern and Sabaragamuwa provinces which were considered as the country’s food basket. The loss of paddy harvest amounts to 400,000 metric tons of paddy.

The source hinted that private mill owners may have stocked rice expecting a rice shortage and earn an extra buck exploiting the situation. Therefore, it was the responsibility of the government to take measures to prevent a rice shortage in the local market especially in the festive season.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka

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