Floods spoil post-war recovery project in N&E

by Shamindra Ferdinando

In the aftermath of damage the Maha crop has suffered owing to rains and floods, the Sri Lankan government and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are in the process of reviewing the situation in paddy producing areas in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The government is separately assessing the situation in areas outside the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Government sources say the floods have ruined the chance of having a bumper harvest in the Maha season, which could have been the best yield for a long time in the N &E region. The destruction caused by torrential rains and floods have hampered the ongoing post-war recovery plan in the two Provinces.

The UN agency spent $ 3 million to provide seed paddy and other seeds such as green gram, groundnut, maize, kurakkan, cowpea, gingerly and chilli to cultivators in the N&E districts. Agency sources said that of some 64,000 acres cultivated with seed paddy provided by the agency in the Batticaloa district alone, about 60,000 had gone under water last week. Before the floods, the UN agency expected an unprecedented yield. But Jaffna was likely to produce a bumper harvest, sources said.

FAO agency in partnership with the Provincial Department of Agriculture provides seeds, tools, fertilizer and farm equipment for those who have returned to their villages since the end of the war and cultivated their land. They said that the on-going FAO project wouldn’t have been a reality without open-handed donor support from Australia, Norway, Sweden and the United States of America.

The agency provided seed paddy for the cultivation of 106,000 acres of abandoned paddy land and other seeds such as green gram, groundnut, maize, kurakkan, cowpea, gingelly and chilli to cultivate 18,000 acres of abandoned highland this Maha season.

"Bringing over 120,000 acres of abandoned agriculture land back into production in the North, over the past couple of months, has been a challenging and significant milestone toward re-establishing agriculture production in the region", FAO Representative Patrick T. Evans said. "This achievement would not have been possible without timely donor support and our close partnership with government counterparts," he added.

Meanwhile, a Japanese delegation is here on a mission to monitor projects carried out by the FAO funded by them.

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