June 24, Colombo: Minister of Agriculture, Livestock Development, Irrigation and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development P. Harrison says that the price of paddy will be increased from next Maha season and that he too is not satisfied with the guaranteed price.
The Minister said this while participating in a program to enlighten the farmers of the Mahasen Farmers Organization's on an awareness program on the special project for the development of agricultural roads and canals under the Mahavilachchiya Irrigation Project.
Speaking at the occasion Minister Harrison said prices of paddy will be increased from next season since the price of paddy has not been increased in five seasons.
He said the cost of paddy production has gone up and therefore, a change in the guaranteed price should be made.
The Minister noted that the farmers now harvest the paddy by machines and sell the wet paddy for lower price of about Rs. 30.
Harrison said as the Agriculture Minister he has decided to provide few paddy drying machines to farmer associations from next season as an experiment. If successful it can be applied island wide.
He noted that it takes only 25-50 cents to dry a paddy kilo and but once dried the paddy can be stored and the farmers can sell for a higher price later. He pointed out that large scale mill owners are making a huge profit by spending a little. He said the farmers can make a profit of about 15 rupees per kilo and he hopes to provide about 50 such machines to a district.
The Minister further said the farmer associations will also be provided with harvesting machines.
"We intend to provide fifty harvest machines to each district. The farmer organizations have to take this responsibility. Now only the private sector has the machines and farmers don't benefit from that. Therefore with the harvest machines farmers can pay for the fuel and get the job done."
Minister Harrison also said the Ministry is in the process of seeking funds to rehabilitate irrigation reservoirs and canals.
"We know there are a number of irrigation schemes that need to be rehabilitated. So we are in the process of updating the main reservoirs. The amount of money available is not enough. We are holding discussions to modernize main reservoirs, remove silt, and eliminate salvinia. We are also looking to get new funds to modernize the canals."