President Orders Suspension Of Rice Imports With Country Saddled With Backlog Of Stocks

Shakila Ifham

December 15, 2022


President Ranil Wickremesinghe has ordered the suspension of rice imports as there is no shortage at present. 

 Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera on Thursday requested the President to take measures with regard importing of rice with their being adequate stocks in the country.  

A senior Ministry official confirmed that there is no shortage of rice in the country in the year 2023 as the farmers have cultivated about 675,600 hectares out of 800,000 hectares this Maha season which had been the acreage earmarked for cultivation in the last Yala season. 

 President Wickremesinghe has asked the Senior Advisor to the President, Dr. R. Samaratunga to publish the gazette notification to suspend rice importation, it is learnt.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has taken steps to continue importing rice to Sri Lanka as it was earlier predicted that there will be a shortage of rice in the country due to the failure of paddy cultivation in the Maha season of 2021. 

Accordingly, by the end of September 2022, the amount of rice imported into Sri Lanka is 675,288 tonnes. The amount spent on it is Rs. 73,627 million.

Although the Cabinet approved an amount of 2000 million rupees for the purchase of paddy by the Paddy Marketing Board, the state banks could not release that amount as there were outstanding to the banks from the PMB over previous borrowings. 

It is also reported that the farmers in some areas have paddy stocks from three previous seasons.

Therefore, the minister has also pointed out that further importing of rice will result in farmers not being able to sell their harvest.