Wednesday April 24, 2019

Sri Lanka's North-Eastern rice farmers badly hit by drought

Mar 08, 2017 11:10 AM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)


ECONOMYNEXT - Rice farmers in Sri Lanka's North and East have been worst hit by an ongoing drought, with Jaffna district where almost all rice cultivation is rain fed, where almost of all the crop is facing total destruction, official data shows.

In the Northern Jaffna district where 10,400 hectares of rice rainfed rice was cultivated almost 99 percent was fully or partially destroyed by drought, during the ongoing Maha or main cultivation season, Department of Agriculture data shows.

About 50 percent, 5,233 hectares were totally damaged in Jaffna, 2,288 hectares were 75 percent damaged, 1,872 were 75 percent damaged and 947 were 25 percent damaged.

Jaffna has no major irrigation schemes, and other crops are mostly cultivated with groundwater. The region is legendary in Sri Lanka's culture for hardworking farmers who complain little.

Both the North and East was under a 30-year war until 2009, when the Sri Lanka government started to re-build irrigation facilities.

In Batticaloa in the Eastern province where 64,416 hectares of rice was sown, 41,446 or 64 percent was hit by drought with 17,939 hectares fully destroyed.

In Trincomalee where 34,796 hectares were sown, 20,000 or 57 percent was fully damaged.

In Mulativu in the East, 53 percent of the planted area was hit and in Mannar in the north west 40 percent was hit.

In Amparai also in the Eastern province, the top rice producing district outside of Mahaweli river valley areas, 74,836 hectares were sown, 18,267 or 24 percent was damaged, with 13,925 hectares fully damaged.

In Kilinochchi in the northern province, where 23,438 hectares were sown, 36 percent or8,470 hectares was drought hit with 1,000 fully destroyed already.

In Kurunegala another top rice producing area 42,740 hectares (51 percent of the usual) was sown and 14,452 or 34 was partially destroyed.

As at February 2017, rice farmers have sown 535,192 hectares in the current Maha season or 66 percent of the potential extent and 137,017 hectares were stricken with drought.

The government has promised 10,000 rupees an acre of compensation for farmers for rice and other crops.

Farmers are expected to lose 435,390 metric tonnes from damaged areas and another 110,327 tonnes from other fields in drought hit districts totalling 545,717 metric tonnes of rice paddy.

Sri Lanka is expected produce 1.33 million metric tonnes of paddy this season down from 2.9 million tonnes last year.

Sri Lanka was hit by a crushing drought last year with both monsoons failing due a cooler temperatures in the Western Indian Ocean which reduced precipitation in South Asia, a weather phenomenon known as an Indian Ocean Dipole negative event.


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