(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Minister of Agriculture says cultivation of 100,000 acres of fallow paddy lands that will commence on the 25th of this month under the guidance of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Addressing a media briefing held at the Ministry of Agriculture Yesterday(23), Minister Aluthgamage said out of the total 100,000 acres of fallow paddy lands in Sri Lanka, the cultivation of 28,000 acres of fallow paddy lands in 320 Agrarian Service Centers will commence on the 25th of this month for the Yala season.
Accordingly, commencing the national festival of cultivation, 140 acres of paddy fields in the Pahuru Oya area in the Dompe Agrarian Services Division will be cultivated.
The Minister said that by cultivating 28,000 acres of fallow paddy lands, 35,000 metric tons of paddy will be added to the paddy harvest during the Yala season.
The ridges and canals of all fallow paddy fields will be cleaned and repaired and interest free loans of Rs. 25,000 per acre will be provided to farmers, the Minister said. Fertilizer, technology and machinery facilities will be provided free of charge by the government for this purpose. The cultivation of fallow paddy lands has been made compulsory on 10 acres in each Agrarian Services Division.
He said that 28,000 acres would be cultivated in the first phase, followed by 22,000 acres and 50,000 acres in the second phase. He said that he hopes to remove the word ‘barren paddy field’ from the dictionary of agriculture and move to a paddy cultivation program by all paddy farmers this year.
The Minister of Agriculture further stated that there are various reports on social media these days that there is a shortage of rice and that the price of rice is high.
The Minister of Agriculture further stated that 764,000 hectares or 3.2 million metric tons of paddy has been cultivated this season and 1.8 million MT is expected to be cultivated for the Yala season. Accordingly, it is expected to produce 5 million metric tons of paddy by 2021.
“When this is converted into rice we will get 3 million metric tons of paddy and the people will need 195,000 kilos of paddy for monthly consumption. Annual rice requirement is 2.4 million metric tons. Accordingly, there is a surplus of 6 million metric tons of paddy,” he explained.
Accordingly, as the Minister of Agriculture, he is ready to give an answer to anyone who says that there is a shortage of paddy, he added.
The Minister asserted that there was no shortage of rice or paddy in the country and that the Ministry of Agriculture had cultivated the land and the farmers had received a very good price of about 55-56 rupees for kilo and the fertilizer subsidy.
The Minister of Agriculture also said that to say that there is a shortage of rice in the country is a blatant lie spread by some mill owners who pay money to social media and bring farmers to media conferences. The Ministry of Agriculture states that there is no shortage of rice in the country and that there is an excess surplus.