|Tuesday, 11 January 2005|
by L. B. Wijayasiri in Kandy
A bumper rice crop is expected in the entire country, despite the setbacks caused by the recent tsunami. However, the anticipated shortage of labour to harvest the rice crop in Ampara and Batticaloa is a concern, said Director General of Agriculture Dr. S. L. Weerasena.
The country's 20 per cent of rice is produced in Ampara and Batticaloa districts during the Maha season.
Dr. Weerasena in a statement to the Daily News said: "The Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Irrigation and the Department of Agriculture are responsible for ensuring the national food security. In the present day context after the devastation by the tsunami, it is essential that great emphasis is paid to ensure national food security.
Despite the severe inundation in the coastal belt, we are fortunate that the rice crops' particularly in the Ampara and Batticaloa districts are least affected. In fact we are expecting a bumper rice crop in the entire country.
However a particular concern is the anticipated shortage of competent labour to undertake timely harvesting of this rice crops in the large tracts in Ampara and Batticaloa districts from where the labour originates."
Dr. Weerasena said in normal circumstances, Ampara district begins harvesting rice crop in mid January and harvesting is completed by the end of February.
Farmers, officers and other service providers such as equipment hiring companies should collaborate to make sure that the harvesting begins on time to make the maximum out of the bumper crops expected in the two districts, he said.
Farmer organisations and the government officials at the village level need to spearhead the coordination of this harvesting operations, he said.
"Needless to say that the other post harvest operations such as threshing, drying, bagging and storage are also labour intensive. The need to be equally well coordinated to ensure that the rice situation in the country is not adversely affected," Dr. Weerasena said.
Produced by Lake House