The most successful paddy purchasing in history was conducted this Yala season, claimed Chairman of the Paddy Marketing Board MB Dissanayake on Friday. Speaking to The Nation he denied accusations leveled by many that irregularities continue in the paddy purchasing process. “If so then how can we collect 86,779 metric tons of paddy as of today this season,” he said adding that paddy purchasing will continue for another week in order to reach the quota of 120,000 metric tons at a cost of rupees 6,000 million which government has set aside for the purpose.

On August 3(Thursday), Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe informed the Parliament that a National Agricultural Authority with full powers will be established for the purchase of paddy, and to regulate the process in the future. According Dissanayake, the Paddy Marketing Board will then fall under the purview of the National Agricultural Authority (NAA).

Last week, the Paddy Marketing Board deployed additional staff to paddy purchasing centers in order to expedite the process of purchasing and rectify the situation.  Officers of the Civil Defense force as well as Development Officers attached to District Secretariats were therefore deployed to paddy purchasing centers that were facing difficulties in making purchases due to the hundreds of farmers gathering at such centers.

However, media reports continue to report of long queues at paddy purchasing centers while farmers in many parts of the country claimed to be disappointed over the government’s failure to set up an adequate mechanism to purchase the paddy. But authorities in turn have blamed them for disregarding instructions over the sale of their stock. The Prime Minster however in Parliament promised to find long-term solutions on farmers’ issues through discussion with political party leaders under the initiative of the President. The issue was raised in Parliament by JVP Parliamentary Group Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake.