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Yala paddy harvest could be affected by drought

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Fory-five-thousand acres of paddy in the Hambantota district as well as paddy cultivations in several other districts may be at risk due to drought, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said, at a discussion held with a group of Anuradhapura district farmers yesterday.

There is a risk of destruction of 45,000 acres of paddy fields in the Hambantota district due to severe drought. The drought has affected the paddy fields of several other districts too. The Minister said that due to this, the expected paddy harvest of this Yala season may be affected, and a kilogram of paddy which is currently bought at Rs. 95 by the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) may increase to more than Rs.100 in the near future.

The Minister stated that the Paddy Marketing Board buys paddy on the basis of a loan taken from a state bank at an interest rate of eight percent, and it was decided to buy paddy at the current rate of Rs. 95 based on the price decided by the Price Committee of the Finance Ministry.

Also, the Minister said that he is ready to provide necessary concessions to the farmers for paddy cultivation as well as other additional crops in the coming Maha season.

Currently, paddy is being harvested in the Yala season and by the end of this month, the harvest will be completed in most areas. Accordingly, an opportunity to harvest paddy will arise around March of next year.

By that time, stocks may run out in the private sector as well. Due to this, the price of paddy in this Yala season may increase in the coming period, the major paddy mill owners as well as small paddy mill owners had also said, the Minister explained.

Secretary of the Ministry Gunadasa Samarasinghe and others participated in this discussion.

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