Farmers protest without knowing magnitude of the drought

By Franklin R. Satyapalan

With a drought gripping the region there was no point in thousands of farmers in the Southern and the Uva provinces protesting against the government’s decision to call on them to reduce the acreage under cultivation, said Manager of the Walawe river project engineer Asanka Gunatilleke.

The authorities have asked them to leave 20 percent of their lands fallow cultivate 50% with paddy and the balance 30 percent with other crops for farmers depending on water from Walawae river.

All attempts by the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management Nimal Siripala de Silva to appeal to the farmers to understand the situation had fallen on deaf ears and farmers were demanding water to cultivate their lands, Mahaweli Authority sources said.

The farmers do not understand that leave aside the enormous amounts the government expended on providing the fertilizer at subsidized price of Rupees 350 per day to all Paddy farmers and Rupees 1000 to Tea, Rubber, Coconut and other crop cultivators, the government was spending Rupees 7500 to irrigate every acre of cultivatable land in the dry zone", engineer Gunatillake said.

We are already releasing more water to the farmers than what we can supply and time is running out as we have only water adequate for 21 days", said the Manager who was in Habantota yesterday to advise farmers to call off the protests.

He said that leaving aside the irrigation of 30,000 hectares, the government had to provide water to Sugar cane farmers in the Sevenagala area and the farmers in the Batawatte farm area.

Among the reservoirs in the country the Uda Walawe reservoir was the one with the least amount of water in the country, Gunatilleke said.

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...