Farmers advised to go for cash crops

Story and Pictures by Ravi Ladduwahetty

Farmer leaders, numbering over 300, from agricultural areas countrywide met at the Mahaweli Centre in Colombo on Saturday to address issues in relation to water supply for agriculture. The meeting was chaired by Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management Nimal Siripala De Silva.

Ministry Secretary Ivan Silva, himself an Irrigation Engineer, in his opening remarks said that the farmers should also not depend on irrigated water only, but also depend, to some extent, on rainwater when it came to the Maha season. He acknowledged the fact that there was a drought which debilitated the crops in the 2012 Yala season.

He also said that the farmer organizations in the North Central Province should talk it over, with each other, on their needs and target a lesser acreage for of cultivation, given that there is a reduced quantity of water in the Parakrama Samudra. "But I feel that these areas could be cultivated with reduced quantities," he said.

He also conceded that water could not be supplied to the Hurulu Oya, Yodha Ela and that there were a series of negotiations with the Elahera farmer in this regard. He added that water supplies would be given to that area by November 15.

He said that farmers were promised water for Kandalama on November 20 while water to the Yodha Ela would be provided on November 5. There was no problems with regard to the cultivation in the Rajanganaya areas as there was sufficient water, he said.

He also advised farmers not to be too dependant on irrigable water but to go for cash crops such as maize which will not depend so much on water but would also yield incomes to compensate for the non-cultivation of paddy.

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