By Waruni Paranagamage
The Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) yesterday said that it had so far purchased over 89% of paddy from the targeted 178,000 MT with a further 18,000 MT yet to be collected from Hambantota, Mannar and Polonnaruwa districts.
PMB Chairman M.B. Dissanayake said that they had already finished the purchasing process in 11 districts but the collection procedure in several districts was delayed due to the bad weather conditions prevailing islandwide.
The PMB has spent around Rs. 7.5 billion to purchase 160,000 MT of paddy.
The Government has allocated Rs. 6 billion to purchase paddy produced during the Yala season from farmers across the country. However, as a result of the Government deciding to increase the paddy purchase target, an additional Rs. 2 billion has been provided by the Treasury.
“From the present allocated budget we only have Rs. 519 million to purchase the rest of the paddy production, but it will not be sufficient.
Therefore, we are now planning to request for an extra budget allocation from the Government,” Dissanayake added.
The Yala Season paddy purchasing process started on 29 July with 120,000 MT of paddy set to be purchased under the program. However, a maximum of 2,000 kg was set to be purchased from each farmer at the certified price of Rs. 50 for Samba and Kiri Samba, while a price of Rs. 45 was set for Naadu.
The PMB said that the Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Galle and Matara districts had not begun the purchasing process as the production levels from those areas were not sufficient to cater to their own consumption levels.
The Jaffna District had been excluded from the purchasing list because farmers there had not been active during the Yala Season.
The 2014/15 Maha Season produced 1.67 million MT of paddy, while the ongoing Yala Season produced 1.04 million MT.
He noted that this year the country had been able to produce a total paddy production of 2.71 million MT thus far, whereas the local requirement was 2.27 million MT.