Sri Lankan Cabinet has approved the recommendation of Ministry of Internal Trade (MoIT) to import around 50 thousand of Rice from India to make the country self sufficient in rice supply to its people during the shortage of rice in drought conditions.
Expecting shortage of rice due to failure of production of crops 2014 Yala which was grown in the April-September 2014 and Maha which was grown in September 2013 to April 2014 has affected due to severe prolonged drought in the North Central and Eastern Provinces.
According to Ministry Spokesperson Nipuna Ekanayake , the ministry has planned to import the stocks to avert any artificial price hike or shortage caused by hoarding of stocks by unscrupulous market players.
This year’s paddy harvest was severely affected by the prolonged drought in the North Central and Eastern Provinces. The special commodity levy imposed on rice was reduced to Rs. 5 in April this year due to severe rice shortage in the market. The reduced levy will continue for five more months to manage market prices.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates Sri Lanka to produce around 2.65 Million tons of milled rice in 2014 which is about 16% down comparing to previous year.
Also the USDA accounts Sri Lankan milled rice production about 2.8 million tons which is down by 1.5 % of the expectation.
Meanwhile, prices of several other essential food items will change due to changes in the special commodity levy imposed on them. The tax on potato imports has been increased to Rs. 25 while the levy on imported grains has been reduced. Accordingly, the tax on Masoor dhal has been reduced by Rs. 3, cowpea by Rs. 30, green gram by Rs.32 and grams by Rs. 5.