Following a drop in production due to drought the Government is now looking into the possibility of farming short-term crops that could be cultivated between the two main seasons.
Accordingly, the government would implement special programmes to move away from concentrating solely on farming during the Maha and Yala seasons to farming short-term crops during periods identified as being between the two seasons and the provision of subsidies to farmers of such crops.
Noting that climate change had massively impacted the country and affected all agricultural crops, the Ministry of Agriculture said that they were formulating plans to adapt technical and technological aspects in relation to how to face possible food shortages.
Additional Secretary (Monitoring and Evaluation) of the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division of the Ministry, NPVC Piyathilake said that another plan was to increase food security by growing crops that were at present imported with the expenditure of much capital and to thereby become self-sufficient in relation to food.
He highlighted the need to study rain patterns, whether such patterns continued or to what extent the patterns differed over time, how rains occurred during the Maha season and the quantity of the rain along with the regions suitable for certain crops and vice versa and the time periods or timeframe during which such crops could be farmed.
Sometimes rains do not arrive at the times expected by the farmer while at other times within a short time span, a massive amount of rain falls.
Regarding the conditions of drought prevalent in the country at present, Piyathilaka elaborated that the Government planned to renovate a large number of small irrigation tanks in the Mahaweli scheme besides creating new tanks to conserve water.
Piyathilake further pointed out that farmers may sometimes lack the know-how to utilize modern technology for current and future agriculture related activities.
“We are thinking of these matters. We have the national food production progarmme for 2017 and 2018. Subsidies are to be given to farmers of potatoes, onions, chillies, soya, cowpea and corn,” he said.
“Seasons differ according to the zones. For example, the time the Maha season is in Kurunegala and Anuradhapura it is different to the time when the Maha season is in Badulla. Weather plays a role. We are going to identify the crops and the particular zones and then promote it with a view to reducing imports. Mung beans are a short term crop and can be farmed in 45 days while there are other short term crops which can be farmed and harvested within two to three months. We can face this,” he added.