ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan rice farmers who planted only two thirds of the usual area during the current main cultivation season face further losses of 545,000 metric tonnes of production due to the most severe drought in decades, an official estimated shows.
Sri Lanka’s rice famers only grew 535,192 hectares of rice in the current Maha season, out of a possible 808,579 or 66 percent of the usual area, but 137,017 hectares of planted rice have been damaged by February 2015, a department of agriculture crop estimate said.
Of that about 65,058 hectares had been fully damaged, 37,846 had been 75 percent damaged, leading to estimated crop losses of 435,390 metric tonnes.
Another 5 to 10 percent of planted crop is expected to be lost in surviving rice paddies in drought affected districts leading to losses of around 110,327 metric tonnes, bringing total losses from planted crops to 545,717 metric tonnes this season.
Farmers in the Northern and Eastern provinces are among the hardest hit.
The estimated paddy (rough rice) output this year is expected to fall to 1.325 million tonnes sharply down from 2.9 million metric tonnes last year with only 66 percent of the usual extent planted.
Sri Lanka faced a severe drought from the middle of 2015 with the failure of both monsoons due to cooler temperatures in the Western Indian Ocean, a weather phenomenon known as an Indian Dipole negative event.
An IOD positive event, involving warmer seas in the Western Indian Ocean, which bring saturated monsoon wins, triggers in Sri Lanka.
In the 2015/2016 Maha season, rice farmers lost 78,000 metric tonnes due to floods. (Colombo/Mar08/2017)