Crop forecast warns of mid-year shortages

Thursday, 24 February 2011 01:04 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Shezna Shums

Several districts have recorded paddy and other crop damage, which would make them sufficient only till mid October unless measures are taken to re-cultivate the paddy and vegetables that were lost earlier this year.

The Socio Economic and Planning Centre, Department of  Agriculture in its recent crop forecast released last week stated that the cultivation progress of paddy up to end January of this year is 777,260 hectares, which is 95 per cent achievement of target.

They noted that 205,000 hectares, which is approximately 26 per cent of the cultivated paddy land, had been damaged due to the floods.

The department also noted that the expected production loss due to flood damage is about 0.75 million metric tonnes, which is about 24.5 per cent and the revised production forecast for the season is 2.3 million metric tonnes.

The Department stated that the Maha Season production would be sufficient up to mid October this year.

Regarding Other Field Crops (OFC) the progress of OFC cultivation is 136,000 hectares which is about 74 per cent from the target.

The total flood affected area is 35,781 hectares which is about 25 per cent from the total cultivation extent.

The flood affected area of OFC crops range from 12% to 60% cultivated extent.

Crop forecast...

The highest production loss has occurred in black gram, which recorded to a loss of 57%. Other losses include a loss of chillies of 36%, green gram of 33%, potatoes of 31% and cow pea of 30%.

In the case of vegetables the progress of up country vegetables and low country vegetables is 64% and 74% from the target.

The total affected area due to the extreme weather condition is 11,154 hectares, which is about 27% from the total cultivated extent.

The paddy lands affected by the floods were mainly reported from the major commercial paddy producing districts of the Eastern, North Central and Northern provinces.

The highest crop damage was reported from Batticaloa, which recorded 58,100 hectares or 97% from the sown extent of paddy.

The other major flood affected Districts include Trincomalee, Kilinochchi, Ampara, Vavuniya, Anuradhapura and Mahaweli system B.

However, the targets with regard to paddy have exceeded in the Districts of Galle, Kurunegala, Anuradhapura and other Mahaweli systems.

Total production shows no major deviation from the total Maha seasons average of 2.38 metric tonnes, thereby the Maha season for 2010 and 2011 would be sufficient for October. According to the worst scenario expecting a 15% further reduction in the Maha production, which is about 1.94 metric tonnes, this would be sufficient up to mid September.

However, the crop damages are high in commercial paddy producing districts and therefore the reduction of commercial stocks could affect seasonal supply levels of rice. Improvement of commercial stocks could be expected from Kurunegala, Hambantota, Monaragala and Mahaweli areas.

Regarding OFCs the most affected by the floods during the Maha season were maize, millets, pulses, condiments, onions, oil crops and potato.

When it comes to red onion production would be 28, 079 metric tonnes and it is 12 per cent lower than the previous Maha production. Nearly 300 hectares of crop have been affected in Jaffna District and still 16,000 metric tonnes of red onion production could be expected. About 9,500 metric tonnes of red onion production would come from the Puttalam District.

Major black gram producing districts have severely been affected due to floods and 97 per cent of crop loss is expected from Vavuniya and Mullaitivu Districts.

As for the vegetable situation, nearly 25 per cent of cultivation area and 30 per cent of overall crop production of the up country crop vegetables have been affected due to extreme weather conditions throughout the season. The loss of vegetables is most prevalent for leeks and carrots.

The total vegetable crop affected area reported due to floods in Anuradhapura is 5,244 hectares, Trincomalee 536 hectares, Batticaloa 532 hectares, Ampara 547 hectares and Vavuniya 320 hectares.

This report by the Department of Agriculture provides the forecast for the food crop sector and is based on the information provided by the Provincial Departments of Agriculture, Extension and Training Division of the Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Management Centre, Department of Agriculture and Department of Irrigation. This forecast is based on the average yield of the past three seasons.