Paddy farmers at wits end

Story and Pics by Karuwalagaswewa Jayarathna Wickramarachchi

The farmers in Raja Rata -the rice bowl of Sri Lanka - who have had a bountiful harvest this year are facing a great deal of difficulty due to the inability to sell their produce at a price which would offset the recent hike in fuel prices.

Farmers say the price of a kg of paddy between, Rs 22 to Rs 28 offered by private buyers is totally insufficient, given the various expenses such as hiring workers and machinery they need for harvesting .
Government purchases paddy at Rs 30 per kg, but many farmers have to travel more than 20 km to reach a purchasing centre. But the recent rise in the cost of fuel does not make it worthwhile travelling the extra distance.

A.M. Jayatillake a farmer from Saliyawewa said "it cost a farmer around Rs 25,000 to cultivate an acre of paddy. After harvest more expenditure is incurred", he lamented.

Many among the farming community have vowed they would switch to vegetable cultivation in the future, unless suitable arrangements are made to purchase their produce.

The harvest is bountiful, but a loss to the farmer…
Ripening paddy fields
Harvest time, a time to be joyful
Threshing and bagging in progress
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