Written by Tharushan Fernando
15 Jan, 2017 | 7:23 pm
The prevailing drought has taken a severe toll across the country with farmers unable to grow crops due to the lack of water, while others are struggling to find water to drink.
The lack of rainfall has decimated crop yields across the country.
While 800,000 hectares of paddy fields are cultivated during the Maha season, this time, farmers have only been allowed to cultivate less than half that amount, or about 350,000 hectares.
In spite of this, about 40% of the land that has been cultivated, is at risk due to the shortage of water.
In Sri Lanka’s main rice producing district of Ampara, farmers have only cultivated about 21,000 hectares.40% of the crops cultivated in the district have already withered away without life giving water.
Director General of the Department of Irrigation,Saman Weerasinghe said that the Department only has the capacity to supply water until March 15 -and at present, agrarian wells are being dug in at risk areas to save crops.
Farmers Associations are calling on the government to act immediately to mitigate the problems faced by agrarian communities.
Convener of All Island Peasant’s Federation, Namal Karunaratne explained that whatever the farmers have, has been used as collateral for bank loans to cultivate their fields and they have no means of repaying these loans. He further stated that when the new school term begins, they have to purchase equipment for their children and they also have to consider the Sinhala Tamil New Year.
“This has caused farmers to undergo severe stress. We call on the government to please provide fair compensation to the farmers, at a minimum of 50,000 rupees per acre”, he said
As the drought persists, the supply of pipe borne water has also been limited in several areas.
General Secretary of the NWSDB Employees Union,Engineer Upali Ratnayake charged that action is only taken when the situation is dire – and afterwards it is said that there isn’t suffcient funds, there aren’t enough workers and that there are no facilities.
“”The people suffer as a result. We ask that they immediately take action to allocate funding for bowsers, workers and other facilities, to prevent the suffering that the people will have to undergo,” he said.
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