A recently concluded survey on local banana
cultivation shows that small-scale farmers are inhibted on
account of their poverty, lack of proper price structure,
irrigation land holdings, draught power and regular financial
A team of scientists attached to the Open
University of Sri Lanka did the survey. They said banana farmers
in the Hambantota district, in particular, face these
constraints more markedly that others. In Hambantota, a major
shift in terms of choice of crops to be cultivated, an unequal
distribution in the farm structures and land ownership has been
emerging in the recent years.
According to the researchers, a number of
small-scale farmers do not have access to local commercial banks
and the opportunity to obtain bank loans, without govt. support,
"Most banks seek tangible ability of these
farmers to repay loans,"the researchers said.
Some farmers mortgage lands and obtain loans
from village level credit providers, who charge high rates of
This particular segment of farmers have to pay
exorbitant interest on loans secured. The government and its
agents do not have a mechanism to end their economical
grievances, researchers said.
Researchers suggest that the authorities
implement early an easy rural credit system to assist the
The study revealed that banana cultivation is
more lucrative as it has the capacity to produce higher economic
surpluses and also a steady flow of income.
According to the study, a few farmers who
operate large-scale holdings successfully indulge in banana
cultivation. On the other hand, farmers cultivating small banana
plots have not been able to make much headway. The ultimate
outcome of the process is the creation of a landless class of
small-holders, who have leased out their plots to the richer
cultivators to end up as paid labourers on their own land.
Meanwhile, agrarian officials of the Hambantota
area said a large number of small-scale farmers is perennially
suffering as a consequence of the lack of infrastructure and
prevailing economic barriers, to which the relevant authorities
are unresponsive to.
Should the authorities develop better
infrastructure, small-scale farmers would never need to lease
out their land, officials said.
They also highlighted marketing problems faced
by small-scale farmers and stressed the need to eliminate the
ubiquitoius middleman menace. The also proposed setting up a
smooth marketing system and an easy loan system like the Grameen
concept operating in Bangladesh.