By K. G. Karunaratne - Polonnaruwa
Vice President of the Polonnaruwa District Rice Mill Owners’ Association Suraj Jayawickreme said the collapse of medium and small scale rice mills has resulted in the price hike experienced at present.
He said several medium and small scale rice mill owners had given up the trade.
The Vice president told the media yesterday in Polonnaruwa that a population of more than 20 million people whose staple food was rice had been left to the mercy of about six large- scale rice mill owners and that the officials had now been compelled to beg them to release the rice stocks to the market for the controlled price.
He pointed out that the farmers had a bumper harvest in the Maha Season and that it was a matter of serious concern that the country was experiencing a shortage of rice in less than one and half months of the harvest and said the large scale rice mill owners had ample stocks for about six months. “The government had implemented a scheme to provide the opportunity for small scale and medium scale rice mill owners to purchase wet paddy for Rs.44 a kilo and dry paddy for Rs.50 a kilo. However, the large scale rice mill owners purchased the paddy for Rs.50 and 55 a kilo and they claim that they are not in a position to release the rice to the market for the controlled price,” he said.
He further said that the government should work out an effective mechanism to control the rice market in the country and to prevent the ongoing monopoly.
President of the Polonnaruwa District Rice Mill Owners’ Cooperative Society H. M. V. Samarakoon and Secretary Prasad Hematha addressed the media conference.