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No Keeri Samba import due to being endemic variety

No Keeri Samba import due to being endemic variety

23 Nov 2023 | BY Buddhika Samaraweera

  • 100,000 MT to be imported for festive season, including Samba and alternative to Keeri Samba 

The Department of Agriculture has stated that it is not possible to import Keeri Samba – a local rice variety – as it is not grown in any other country, in the wake of reports that the Cabinet of Ministers has given approval to import 100,000 metric tonnes (MT) of Keeri Samba and Samba rice in view of the upcoming festival season.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday (21), Cabinet Spokesman Dr. Bandula Gunawardana said that the Cabinet had granted approval for the said importation. He said that the decision had been taken to meet the increased demand which is anticipated to take place during the festive season.

Against this backdrop, Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera yesterday (22) engaged in a discussion with officials of the Agriculture Ministry and the Department regarding the prevailing shortage of Keeri Samba (BG 360) in the market.

During the discussion, the Department's officials revealed that 7% of the total paddy cultivation (175,000 acres) in the country was Keeri Samba during the 2022-2023 Maha cultivation season, which yielded 5,000 MT of paddy. Although there are shortages of Keeri Samba and Samba rice in the market at present, they said that the shortage had been created by traders, artificially.

They also said that Keeri Samba is not consumed by people in many areas as it contains a high amount of sugar. Therefore, they said that there could not be any shortage of the variety in the country. Pointing out that Keeri Samba is a local variety of rice which is not grown in any other country in the world, the Department's officials said that there is no possibility of its importation.

The Daily Morning queried an official of the Ministry as to what alternative type of rice would be imported in this event, and in response, the official said that the 100,000 MT of rice to be imported would include Samba and another rice variety which is similar to Keeri Samba.

The Ministry recently stated that it had instructed the Department to encourage more farmers to cultivate Keeri Samba in the coming Maha cultivation season. Although there are sufficient stocks of Keeri Samba in the country, Amaraweera charged that certain traders had limited their supply of Keeri Samba to the market, in order to earn more profits.

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