Govt warns of rice price hike from JanuaryJune 19, 2012, 9:44 pm
By Maheesha Mudugamuwa
The price of rice would be increased next January if the country does not receive rains in the next few weeks, Agriculture Ministry Secretary W. A. Sakalasooriya said.
He said the delay in rains for over six weeks had affected the major and minor irrigation systems in the dry zone and in the Kurunegala District. Paddy lands in the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa districts had been severely affected by the drought. According to the Agriculture Ministry, 5,000 hectares of paddy land in the Kurunegala District have been completely destroyed by the drought.
The main irrigation schemes in Polonnaruwa, Parakaramasamudra, Giritale and Minneriya tanks coming under had been severely affected, Sakalasooriya said.
The Ministry Secretary said that farmers in the Mahaweli H zone were some of the worst affected with most of their paddy cultivations being destroyed. The total farm area under the Mahaweli H zone is about 39,900 hectares and is irrigated by the Kalawewa, Dambulu Oya, and Kandalama reservoir.
Tissa Wewa, Nuvara Wewa, Rajangana and Mahavilachchiya in North Central Province were still in a position to release water for cultivation for a few more weeks, he said.
"There would be a rice shortage only if the entire Yala harvest is destroyed. I don’t think there would be a crisis situation over the Yala harvest. Paddy cultivations were still continuing in Ampara, Trincomalee and Hambanthota," he said.
Sakalasooriya said that there was a risk of losing around 600,000 metric tonnes of paddy from the Yala season. Although the expectation was to cultivate around 450,000 hectares of paddy, only 300,000 hectares had been cultivated due to lack of water. The crop was estimated at 1.25 million metric tons.
Ministry had started discussions with the district secretaries about assistance for farmers affected by drought. Such assistance would be provided as soon as possible, he said.
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Last Updated May 25 2013 | 03:45 pm