Irrigation Dept warns of a possible food shortage

Irrigation Dept warns of a possible food shortage

Irrigation Dept warns of a possible food shortage

Written by Keshala Dias

13 Dec, 2016 | 10:15 pm

The Department of Irrigation warns of a possible food shortage in the country in the near future due to the arid weather conditions.

Rainfall was not received, as expected, from the Southwestern monsoon this time around. Sufficient water was not released to irrigation waterways and as a result of this situation, the average water levels of irrigation water-ways across the country is between 30% to 35%.

Water levels of the Parakrama Samudra, Inginimitiya, Deduru Oya, Lunugamvehera and Minneriya tanks are at the 50%.

Data from the Department of Irrigation notes that the water levels of the Kawudulla, Kantale, Rajanganaya, Padaviya and Mahakanadarawa tanks are between 30% to 35%.

The Department of Irrigation goes on to say that as a result of the scarcity of water, cultivation of only 40 agrarian businesses have taken place.

The department also adds that at present only 50% to 60% of the total farm lands could be cultivated.

Annually, 800,000 hectares are cultivated during the Maha Season. However this time around only 250,000 hectares have been cultivated.

Director General at the Department of Irrigation Saman Weerasinghe said, usually around 2.2 million lands are cultivated for the Maha season but that for this time, only around one million lands would be cultivated.

“The prices of rice, vegetables and fruits can increase”, he added.

He went on to note that for around ten months, the remaining water will have to be used for cultivation as the next expected rainfall is in October.

“We need to use water sparingly”, he added.This situation also affected the markets.

Dry weather has also affected many cultivation across the Polonnaruwa District as well.
As this situation will lead to a shortage of food in the near future, a majority of those who solely depend on this to generate an income will face a serious economical issues.

Does the Ministry of Agriculture have a solution?

Director General at the Department of Agriculture Dr. Rohan Wijekoon proposed to those who have abandoned paddy fields to move for alternative technology of cultivating leguminous crops, which mainly includes peas.

“There is sufficient rice in the country to last until June and July”, he added.

Chairman at the All Ceylon Peasants Federation Namal Karunaratne said, water is being held at the Mahaweli Reservoir to generate electricity and that water for paddy cultivation is being released in a very lethargic manner, as there is no management.

He went on to note that there is no there is no consensus among the respective ministries and the departments.

“Water is available and it is not being released”, he added.

He also said that there is no hope for a programme that would uplift the lives of the rice farmers from the government that “shows no regard for farming.”

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