The Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) will enter the domestic rice market shortly for the first time and sell high-quality rice varieties at an affordable price while maintaining a steady price for paddy, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.
He said the government expected a bigger paddy harvest at the next Maha and Yala seasons because of the favourable weather conditions for paddy cultivation and private traders would no doubt attempt to purchase paddy cheap from farmers.
“Our objective is not to earn big profits from paddy but to help paddy farmers to sell their produce for a higher price. We fix a minimum price for all paddy varieties at every season. That will help paddy farmers to sell their produce above the price fixed by the PMB. The PMB will purchase paddy at the fixed price in case paddy prices decline further,” the minister said.
He said the PMB was ready to purchase any amount of paddy from farmers at the coming Maha and Yala seasons and mill rice from paddy of highest quality bought by it. The PMB cannot keep paddy for longer periods if private traders don’t purchase price from the PMB. Therefore, the best solution is to mill rice from paddy purchased by the Board, packet them and sell in the domestic market, through the CWE under the brand name “PMB Rice’. Price of a kilogram of PMB rice will be lower than the price of rice sold by private traders.
“There were proposals to close down the PMB but I and President Maithripala Sirisena opposed such moves. Our intention is mainly to control the rice market and prevent sharp increases in rice prices in the domestic market. The PMB right now runs as a loss-making venture. By entering the rice market, I expect the PMB could run as a no-profit-no-loss commercial venture and provide the consumer high-quality rice at affordable prices,” the minister said. (Sandun A Jayasekera)