* Established Paddy Marketing Board
*Guaranteed price for rice
*Rice-flour allied products promoted
The Government has spent over Rs. 65 billion for farmers fertilizer subsidy between 2008 -2009 while also giving various tax relief measures to import agricultural implements and issue paddy seed free of charge, Agriculture and Agrarian Services Minister Maithripala Sirisena said.
The Government spends nearly Rs. 7,500 for a 50 Kg bag of fertilizer given to farmers at Rs. 350 under the subsidized rate. A farmer had been given the fertilizer subsidy costing Rs.1,044, 600 for one acre of land of paddy for all eight crop seasons during last four years, the Minister said.
He was addressing the media yesterday responding to the statement of UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at an election rally where he said the Government has done nothing for the farmers. The Government also re-established the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) to revive the market and invigorate the paddy purchasing scheme and stabilized the paddy price for farmers.
Today there was a stable price, Rs. 29.50 for one Kg. of Nadu and Rs. 31.50 for one Kg. Samba paid by the PMB for farmers, Minister Sirisena said.
He said the Government was able to promote rice-flour allied products and the country s annual consumption of wheat-flour had been reduced to 400,000 MTs from 900,000 MTs as a result.
The PMB had been abolished by the UNP that proposed to fill up paddy fields in the Western Province for uses other than agriculture, he added.
In line with the special agricultural development drive Api Wavamu Rata Nagamu, a successful effort had been launched to promote organic fertilizer manufacturing project with special efforts to cut down foreign exchange spent on imports of artificial fertilizer, the Minister said.
The main objective of this project is to bestow the benefit to farmers and enhance their current benefits and cut down their additional production cost, he said.
The Minister criticized Wickremesinghe s statement who had unjustly claimed himself as the leader who ushered in the best era in paddy production in the country under his regime after King Parakramabahu.