May 21, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is in talks with a South African commodity firm to export 20,000 tonnes of rice lying at Paddy Marketing Board, a state-run grain purchasing firm, officials said. Agriculture minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene said discussions have been initiated to sell ‘red-rice’ to South Africa at about 370 dollars a tonne (about 48 rupees a kilogram with the US dollar at 129 rupees).
In Sri Lanka, the rupee cost of imports and exports (traded goods) rose after the currency devalued in the first quarter of 2012.
Minister Abeywardene said based on the state-guaranteed price for paddy farmer and milling costs, it cost about 50 rupees a kilogram to produce rice in Sri Lanka.
But the Vietnam was exporting rice at between 30 to 40 cents a kilogram and Sri Lanka had to export around the same price incurring a loss.
“We were not concerned about the price earlier,” he said. “Now we have to pay attention to price.”
He said Sri Lanka did not produce the types of rice demanded in international markets, but South Africa consumed the red broken kernel quality that Sri Lanka produced.
At the moment Sri Lanka exported between 10,000 to 12,000 tonnes of rice a yea