Prolonged drought leaves farmers helpless

Prolonged drought leaves farmers helpless

Written by Staff Writer

22 Feb, 2020 | 9:43 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st):- The ongoing drought in the Pulasthipura area in Polonnaruwa has left farmers helpless. Residents of this area which has not received rainfall for many months, have to walk several kilometres in search of drinking water. Agricultural activities too have been affected due to the shortage of water.

Those residing in the Wellamkaaduwa, Galkatidamana, and the Bedumala villages have also been affected due to this situation which has caused the destruction of around 150 acres of paddy fields. The public is raising questions over the failure of officials to draw attention towards this problem.

Meanwhile, fires were also reported in the catchment areas of the Central region over the last few days.

The Disaster Management Centre says that nearly 230,000 persons have been affected due to the drought. Assistant DMC Director Janaka Handunpathiraja said that around 215,000 people have been affected in the Kalutara District alone. Meanwhile, the National Water Supply and Drainage Board says that a situation has arisen where water cannot be supplied continuously to certain areas due to the prevailing dry weather.

Issuing a statement, the National Water Supply and Drainage Board said that water bodies through which drinking water is obtained are drying up due to the drought. The public too has been requested to use water sparingly due to the prevailing dry weather. Meanwhile, water levels in water bodies located near hydropower stations too have been dropping.

Water levels in the Castlereigh reservoir have dropped to 49.9% while water levels in the Mousakelle reservoir have dwindled to 58.1%.  In addition, water levels in the Kotmale and Victoria reservoirs have reduced up to 48.9% and 77.1% respectively. The Ceylon Electricity Board says that the current energy mix of the country comprises 20% of hydropower and 80% of other power sources. The CEB too has requested the public to use electricity sparingly.

Meanwhile, the Department of Meteorology has predicted that adequate rainfall could be received during the inter-monsoonal season. While the drought is posing problems to the farmers, a pest destroying their crops has aggravated their problems. Agricultural activities take place on lands spanning around 10,400 acres which receive water from the Hurulu Wewa in the Galenbindunuwewa area.

The farmers who were affected in the past due to the shortage of fertilizer and the threat posed by wild elephants, began their cultivation this year with a million hopes. However, they are now facing a problem caused by a pest that is damaging their crops. Farmers say that around 2000 acres of paddy fields in several areas including Getalawa and Dutuwewa have been affected by this pest.

Chairman of the Hurulu Wewa Joint Farmers Association, Upali Ekanayake speaking to News 1st said,

“Under the fertilizer concession program, diseases like brown spots are not covered. Before this becomes a serious issue, politicians in local authorities should pay attention to this problem and set-up a mechanism to compensate farmers.”

While the pest has spread across several paddy fields in Mahiyanganaya, strategies adopted by farmers to overcome this issue have not borne the desired results.

 

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