Farmers continue to face hardships due to lack of rainfall

by Staff Writer 01-10-2018 | 8:23 PM
Colombo (News1st): Farmers in many paddy growing areas are facing hardships due to insufficient rainfall. Farmers in Nochchiyagama, Anuradhapura have been unable to cultivate thousands of acres of paddy fields for two seasons due to the lack of rainfall, meanwhile, large swathes of paddy fields in the Polonnaruwa district which were cultivated under minor irrigation schemes, have wilted away. While the farmers were initially able to plant after a lapse of four seasons, insufficient rain has resulted in the near ripe paddy stalks drying up. The agrarian community here, which has been mired in debt as a result of loans taken to cultivate the fields, say that they have also not received any kind of compensation for their destroyed crops. Government statistics indicate that 140,000 acres of paddy fields have dried up. The Paddy Marketing Board believes that while the expected harvest this year is 1.4 million metric tonnes, this may grow to a surplus. National organizer of the All Ceylon Peasants Federation Namala Karunaratne states even though the data relating to the land and the number of farmers is accurate, the statistics put forward by them regarding the harvest is false. He added that the drought has had an impact especially this yala season and there has been a massive crop damage in the Polonnaruwa, Kurunegala and Hambantota Districts as well as in the Eastern Province. He went on to note that over 30,000 acres in Polonnaruwa have been infested by pests and there is proof to show that they were not able to extract even a grain of rice from the fields in Kurunegala district and that in such a backdrop farmers cannot hope for the expected harvest.