Monsoon brightens outlook for re-consolidation of paddy cultivation | Daily News

Monsoon brightens outlook for re-consolidation of paddy cultivation

With the South-west monsoons arriving on time with bouts of heavy rains already lashing many part of the island, Agriculture Director General Dr W. M. Wijayasiri Weerakoon yesterday said they are looking at a rapid re-consolidation of paddy cultivation and other main crops.

The production of rice, onions and other crops slumped by half due to variable monsoons, the lack of rains and drought over the past couple of years.

The Agriculture Department is set to achieve a sharp increase, particularly in the category of rice production, in the upcoming seasons, said Weerakoon.

“The department is all keyed up to achieve an increase in the output of vegetables and fruits as well,” he said.

“We will introduce crop rotation strategies to help the farmers whose cultivations were hit by the drought. The strategies are centered on maximising crop yields and farmer profits,” he said.

Asked if he had anything to say about the slump in rice production experienced in the country and its impact on the public in terms of food security, Dr. Weerakoon said people will have enough rice to eat throughout the year in spite of the decline in paddy output because there is sufficient supply in the granaries.

Agriculture Department Director Dr. R.M. Herath said they fell short of cultivating 200,000 hectares of paddy in the preceding cultivation season out of a total of 400,000 hectares.

“The output from the 200,000 hectares of paddy cultivation is enough to feed the entire country without having to import any rice. There is no need to have any fear about any scarcity of the staple food or any other main crops for that matter,” said Dr. Herath.

The drought has held back local farmers, but with the arrival of the normal South-west monsoon and positive rains, farmers have become confident to grow crops on their farms, in rain-fed districts such as Kurunegala and in areas such as Bingiriya, Kuliyapitiya and Mawathagama where there are no irrigation, he said.

“A large number of farmers have already started to grow alternative crops for the recovery of their agriculture losses,” he said.

The output of big onion and maize has been very low, he said. The onion and maize farmers are likely to cultivate other crops in their farming operations, he said.

The production of big onions and maize has dropped by 50 percent due to the recent hot weather, he said.

According to weather forecasters of the Meteorology Department, the uncomfortable heat that has continued for many months throughout the island will disappear fast with showery and windy conditions of the South-west monsoon conditions.

The monsoon conditions are gradually setting up, a forecaster said, adding that heavy rainfall of about 100mm can be expected in the Sabaragamuwa, Central, and Western and North Western Provinces and in the Galle and Matara districts, while rainfall above 50mm can be expected in the Eastern and Uva Provinces.

Fairly strong gusty winds up to 40-50 kilometres-per-hour could be expected throughout the country, particularly in the Central hilly areas and over the western and southern coastal areas, according to the Met Department.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Department Climatologist Dr. D.V.R. Punyardhena had told Agriculture authorities that there could be more rains than expected during the monsoons.

As pointed out by some climatologists, the rains arrived two weeks later than the expected time, which he said was no big deal in terms of the overall monsoon weather.


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