Hold that bite

Published: Monday 15 September 2003

-- The Sri Lankan government has hit upon a practical idea to help the paddy farmers in the country. It has appealed to people to curtail their consumption of bread and opt for rice instead.

The country's demand for wheat flour (all of which is imported) has been steadily rising to the detriment of rice growers. The glut of rice in the markets has led to reduced prices and lower returns for the farmers. The aim of the latest initiative is to raise the per capita consumption of rice from the current 101 kilogrammes (kg) to 110 kg.

The government hopes to finish the present stock of rice so that farmers get a better price for the next paddy harvest. It has made arrangements for 5-8 kg of rice to be distributed every month to beneficiary families at the rate of Rs 26 a kg, requesting them to purchase rice from cooperative societies even if it is priced at Re 1 or Rs 2 over the local market rates.

Preparations are also on to export about 75,000 metric tonnes of rice to Bangladesh. The World Food Programme, too, has been requested to purchase the country's rice to provide relief to local farmers.

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