A group of politicians and rice millers are alleged to have prevented paddy and rice stockpiled at government stores being released to the market in non harvesting seasons, farmer sources alleged.
They said this is the main cause behind the current skyrocketing of rice prices as the retail price of a kilogram of normal white and reddish rice are about Rs. 30 - 35 per kg. and the prices of ordinary parboiled rice such as Kora and Milchard is about Rs. 35 - 40 per kg.
According to farmer sources, the aforesaid group allegedly prevents government paddy stocks being released to the market through their political connections to jack up the price and move their stocks in non harvesting times.
However, when the harvesting season approaches, the government has a need to clear their stores to buy new paddy and then the group of millers come forward to buy paddy stocks from government at a lesser price, through tenders.
After buying government paddy, they plunge the market with rice, which would set off a domino effect, causing both rice and paddy prices falling during the harvesting season, allowing the millers to buy more paddy from farmers at lesser prices.
The sources said that the government is the main looser in this vicious circle as it has to buy paddy from farmers at a higher price and later sell at a lesser price.
They said due to the situation, the minimum certified price of Rs. 16.50 per kg. named by the government had failed to create its own market demand.
`Only the government would buy rice at Rs. 16.50 and the price named by the private sector millers would be about Rs. 12 to 14 per kg`, the sources added.
The Maha harvesting season is about to begin in mid February.