Farmers explain their plight to News1st as Sena contiues it’s march across the country

Farmers explain their plight to News1st as Sena contiues it’s march across the country

Written by Nathasha De Alwis

16 Jan, 2019 | 10:00 pm

Colombo (News1st): Within 3 months, half of  Sri Lanka’s Corn cultivation has been destroyed. Posing a threat to the food cultivation of the entire country, Sena now threatens paddy, Mung, and pumpkin cultivations.

The Sena Caterpillar originated from America. It is suspected that the caterpillar arrived in Sri Lanka from India last October. The species which began its destructive journey in the cornfields of Ampara has now spread to Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Galle, and Matara districts. According to Agricultural experts, this could pose a threat to a number of other cultivations.

A Senior professor of the Agricultural Faculty at the University of Peradeniya, Buddhi Marambe noted that scientifically, the best way to prevent the spread of such a species is to prevent it from breeding.

According to the professor, few methods to tackle this issue are,

  1. Use of Pesticides. There are 4 pesticides recommended at the moment, but it is possible that all of them may not work effectively in all places
  2. Setting fire to the farm, if it is a small farm
  3. Use of ash and coal

Three teams from News1st have already been deployed across a number of districts to investigate the matter.

One of these teams met a farmer in Anuradhapura who had cultivated corn across 4 acres, but now, he has been compelled to destroy his cultivation. He explained to News1st that he obtained loans in order to buy the corn seeds and multiple pesticides that were recommended. He explained that they are barely surviving these days with the help of some additional crops that he had been able to cultivate. He noted that as a farmer they hope that the Government would intervene to provide a solution to this spreading menace.

The farmers of Ampara, who failed to cultivate for 4 seasons due to a lack of rain, cultivated 15,000 acres of corn this season with great optimism. But the Sena caterpillar has destroyed it all. The Farmers explained that they had invested all their money in the cultivations and as a result of this they had ended up with nothing.

Another team which arrived in Meeaththagaala in Bibila, Moneragalaa earlier today saw how 300 acres of corn and pumpkin have been destroyed by the Sena caterpillar.

The Ministry of Agriculture convened a media briefing today to create awareness on the extent of destruction caused to crops by the Sena Caterpillar. Minister of Agriculture P. Harrison noted that the president had requested the entire cabinet to take necessary action about the issue, adding that the ministry has allocated Rs. 50 million for this.

However, he noted that money alone cannot solve the problem. He added that they have launched an island-wide program involving employees attached to the Department of Agriculture, divisional secretaries, inspection officers and other authorities of the state institutions to assess the damages and provide compensation.

Minister Harrison said they have issued a separate cabinet paper with regard to the farmers cultivating corn and on behalf of the department and the ministry the secretary has taken the necessary steps to support and provide compensation to fully damaged crops.

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