Over half a million tons of paddy is expected from the Mahaweli lands this Maha Season, the Government announced yesterday.
This was announced at the launch of the national program to guide the farming community in the island towards the right farming systems at Dehiattakandiya.
The inaugural ceremony of the program was held under the patronage of Irrigation Minister and State Minister of Home Affairs, State Defense and Disaster Management Chamal Rajapaksa and State Minister of Mahaweli Zone Associations, Canals and Settlement Common Infrastructure Development
The awareness program titled ‘Right path to the right cultivation’ was held at Shalika Hall in Dehiattakandiya. Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority organised this farmer awareness program and the agriculturalists together with the experts in the field of Bathalagoda Paddy Research Institute conducted the sessions.
Over 191,560 hectares are irrigated by the Mahaweli waters. Paddy and other crops are grown in 106,117 hectares within its 10 zones. About 900,000 metric tons of paddy are harvested in these 10 zones annually. The value of the produce is Rs. 45 billion.
At the same time, Mahaweli zones contribute to the national production; 21% of paddy, 91% of soybean, 43% of big onion, 10% of maize, 22% of banana, 13% of papaw, and 8% of mango.
The harvest has currently been limited to 5.8 metric tons per hectare as traditional methods are used in cultivation. This awareness program for the Mahaweli farming community has targeted to increase the annual yield to 7.5 metric tons per hectare.
Therefore, the agricultural experts point out that a considerable harvest from not only paddy but also other crops could be obtained by applying the right methods of cultivation.
Certain farmers use chemical and organic fertiliser haphazardly expecting a high yield. Mahaweli State Minister Siripala Gamlath quoted agricultural experts as saying that overuse of fertiliser would not help yield a bountiful harvest.
He stated that paddy has been grown in 94,000 hectares of Mahaweli lands in this Maha season. The Mahaweli Agriculture Unit has projected to harvest soon 565,000 metric tons, the Minister said.
At the same time, 200 farmer families in the Mahaweli C zone received land titles during this awareness program. In addition, agricultural implement was distributed before cash checks to build agricultural wells and housing were handed over to the beneficiaries.
Ampara District parliamentarians W.D. Weerasinghe, Dr. Thilak Rajapakse, and State Ministry of Canals and Common Infrastructure Development in Settlements in Mahaweli Zones Secretary Engineer W.B. Palugaswewa, Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority Deputy Director-General Engineer P.G. Gunathilaka, Mahaweli Agricultural Director Neville Rajapaksha, Livestock Director Thamara Priyadarshani, Residential Enterprises Manager of Mahaweli C zone Ubhaya Kalyana Kumara and several others participated.