Imported rice to be sold at Rs 100 per kilo, lesser than local rice price
Earlier today, the Minister of Trade Bandula Gunawardena stated that the 100 tonnes of rice which was imported will be sold at a price less than Rs100, which would be less than the existing prices of locally produced rice.
The Morning contacted the Secretary to the Foreign Minister Ms Bhadranee Jayawardane today (10) , who explained as to why the imported rice was “cheaper” than the locally produced rice.
“The price of the imported rice was decided upon after considering the cost of logistics and quality of the rice in comparison to the locally produced rice. The rice which is imported is equivalent to what we call Nadu rice and Sudu Kekulu rice in Sri Lanka. So, until we sort out the issues pertaining to the farmers and rice mill owners we have to import this rice and satisfy the consumer and supply to their needs,” stated Jayawardane.
When inquired as to the quality of the rice which is being imported, yet sold at a cheaper rate in comparison to the “premium” quality rice in Sri Lanka, Ms Jawayawadena went on to say that despite statements made that the imported rice is “premium” per say, what is important is that the rice is actually considered “healthy” but not necessarily highest of quality, once again emphasising that due to the demand and supply which the country is currently facing, an alternate had to be decided upon.
Additionally, Ms Jayawadane confirmed that the import of rice is not a permanent decision, but was a decision based on the fact that rice farmers and rice mill owners are facing difficulties producing paddy and rice respectively, further mentioning that the paddy is not ready to be harvested in time for the Maha season.
The Morning further questioned as to why the continuous import of rice will not be considered if the “healthy” rice was cheaper than the locally produced rice, to which Ms Jayawardena stated that it can not be done as the local economy has to be supported.
“We can not keep importing rice. What will happen to the farmers and rice mill owners then? So, a solution has to be found for the rice mill owners and farmers, until which this temporary decision was made”, said Jayawardane.
Meanwhile, earlier last week, State Minister of Co-operative Services, Marketing Development and Consumer Protection Lasantha Aligiyawanna stated that the imported rice would undergo stringent testing by food controllers in the country and only “healthy” rice will be brought into the country.