Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Chillington Crocodile with over 150 years of faithful service in Sri Lanka

Over the years, seven and a half, to be exact I must have bought at least 100 ‘Kimbula udalu thalayas’ for my agricultural needs. If one goes into the web site of Chillington, which is manufactured in the West Midlands in the UK, there is a size and shape of Mammoty just for the Sri Lankan market. I think we must be suckers for inefficient agriculture as we keep insisting on using mammotys and the 9”X9” is the best selling model.

So it was purely coincidental that on Sunday I was in a small village of Udupila in the Mahara electorate to distribute 24 of these to the local people who had been previously informed that they would be receiving one from us. Actually over 100 had requested them, but only 24 could be purchased with the available allocated funds this year with the rest promised next year. This was notably the first time the Kimbula was distributed, as previously the locally produced Lanlo was, and I had no faith in its longevity.

I have mentioned this before, but we can only request the make and size and hope that is what is given. A further problem is that we have no control over the price that is paid for it. These were given at Rs1200 to our budget, when I can buy them at a place I have always bought in Dambulla at Rs850 so one can imagine there is some hanky panky at the Divisional Secretariat in this purchase at the expense of the people of the country. If only they worked for the people’s interest and not their own.

I still question the ethics of handing out these to people who use it for home gardens and around the house tasks, and not for farming proper. It is given because they have requested them from a hobson’s choice of a limited amount of items. Secondly those who received the Mammoty are not necessarily the most deserving cases. Their main claim to fame is that they have been somehow treated unfairly by the state as they are known to be party people, and therefore penalized for a transgression or two whilst those of the govt. who do the same are not even prosecuted. They therefore feel it is their right to receive something when some item such as this is distributed to people in that particular area by one of their MPs.

Further the “Udalu Mita” or the wooden pole to which this is attached must be added before it can be safely used. It is not easy to do this, as I know from experience and it can only be done properly by someone well experienced in it and it is unlikely that the majority of the recipients will be able to do the needful for at least another 6months before they are usable.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Is the State not going to buy the Paddy from Farmers this year? Ampara District a case in point!!

Judging from the first to harvest paddy this season, namely the Ampara District and to some extent the Kurunegala District farmers, the former do it on a large scale and therefore have to dispose of their harvest as soon as it is dried and packed. The Kurunegala farmers on the other hand are usually those with smaller plots, and are able to store their paddy and use a substantial amount for personal consumption.

No allocations have been made for the Paddy Marketing Board to purchase the paddy from Ampara. The big mill owners, including the Govt. stooges, Dudley Sirisena of Araliya Mills and Siripala Gamlath of Nipuna fame do not appear to have sent their lorries to purchase. The price of paddy has fallen to Rs16 per kg. In the days ahead we will see agitation, even riots and self immolation, as the farmers are in a real bind. I have hardly seen this in the press yet as it is too far away for the reporters to get a scoop but it is a matter of time. I understand that the big boys have let the price slide so they can QUIETLY scoop it up at that price.

This is a case of highway robbery. I as a paddy farmer know that at Rs16kg, I can mill paddy and sell rice before transport costs at Rs25kg. If one adds Rs5 for transport and retail, then it can be sold at a profit to the wholesaler at Rs30. This same rice is today Rs45. Can you imagine the profit margin of the Big millers in this game? Nipuna has his own electricity generation, and is able to sell byproducts of Rice bran for animal and human food, giving him an added profit advantage. Who is the loser and winner at this price? I am sure my reader can ascertain that!!!!

I am therefore contending that it is another calculated game played by the Govt. not to allocate funds for the purchase until most of the Ampara paddy is sold at cheap prices to millers, who can then stock and sell it whenever they wish at the prevailing retail prices which I guarantee will NOT fall to Rs30 for Sudu Kekulu or Rs33 for Nadu, both of which is the price it can be sold at if the paddy is Rs16.

It is always the miller/ wholesaler who has the money and the transport and storage arranged, who benefits from this pricing. It is important if there is a state purchasing mechanism, that unlimited funds are given for the guaranteed minimum price of Rs28kg for Kekulu and Rs30kg for Samba at all times, and not at small windows of time which is open to corruption, mismanagement and highway robbery. What actually happens even in this latter scenario is that the Millers further use the state as their bank to buy and store it for them, and they buy it later at a lower price when the state has nowhere to store, or the paddy begins to spoil due to the poor storage practices of the state warehouses. THE SYSTEM SUCKS