Sri Lanka bans exports of rice in new state intervention

June 29, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka said it had banned the export of rice amid a drought to ensure that the “country will have adequate rice stock at affordable prices”, in the latest in a series of ad hoc state interventions in agriculture. Sri Lanka only exports small volumes of rice targeting expatriates or Sri Lankan origina in the Middle East and elsewhere as the island’s rice farmers are unable to produce internationally traded standards of rice.

Rice farmers have been pampered with billions of rupees of tax payer cash support as well other interventions including blocking of alternative carbohydrates for the people through stiff import duties on flour and potatoes.

The finance ministry said in a statement that on the directions of the president, the controller of imports and exports has stopped the export of paddy and rice until the end of the upcoming main harvest season.

The export ban to give rice at ‘affordable prices’ comes after years of stiff import duties on wheat and potatoes which has kept carbohydrates at above world average levels for the islands poorest citizens in particular.

Last year Sri Lanka’s tax-payers forked out 29.8 billion rupees from their pockets to pay for fertilizer subsidies, not all of