Mar 12, Colombo: Paddy farmers in Sri Lanka are threatening to take to the streets and launch massive agitation campaigns if the government fails to purchase paddy at Rs. 40 per kilo.
National Organizer of the All Ceylon Farmers' Federation, Namal Karunaratne said the farmers would have no option but to take to the streets, block roads and carry out a massive agitation campaign since they are unable to sell their harvest.
Referring to the protest carried out by farmers in Polonnaruwa where they laid on the roads in protest, Karunaratne observed that it was the first salvo by the farmers against the government.
He explained that the price of a kilo of paddy should be made Rs. 40 since the government has not purchased paddy from the farmers.
He observed that the farmers have been severely inconvenienced since they are unable to sell their paddy harvest and the harvest in small scale irrigation schemes has been completed.
"The price of paddy has drastically come down. According to government's own estimates the cost of producing a kilo of paddy is Rs.31. However, the government's certified price for a kilo of Nadu is Rs.32 and a kilo of Samba is Rs.35," Karunaratne said.
He added that there are only 82 paddy purchasing centers in the country, which is not adequate.
"The annual paddy production in Sri Lanka is usually about 6.5 million metric tons. The government buys only about 3% to 4% of the production and the rest is purchased by middlemen," he said.
In the 2011/2012 Maha season Sri Lanka paddy harvest amounted to 2,716,961 metric tons.