Bathalagoda to boost the country's rice production
A government grant of Rupees 9 million for rice seed production along
with funds for the purchase of lab equipment for the Bathalagoda Rice
Research and Development Institute will help boost the country's rice
production. As a result for the first times a thousand formers - mainly
those cultivating 2-25 hectares are being selected under a small farms
development project who will receive improved varieties and rice growing
techniques to achieve this goal.
This programme is intended to wean people away from high consumption
of wheat flower and also to maintain a three month buffer stock "other
countries even have 6-8 months of such stock," he informed.
According to the RRDI's agriculturist K. M. Abeyratne the current
percapita flour consumption is 35 kilos while rice is 98 kilos which he
says does not augur well for Sri Lanka's rice production. The current
860,000 hectares under rice production yields 2.9 million metric tons
annually - the annual requirement being three million metric tons.
"We are almost close to self sufficiency," he said attributing the
two restricted seasonal cultivations and water scarcity particularly
during the Maha Season as hurdles to self sufficiency. During Maha
560,000 hectares are cultivated while Yala brings under cultivation
This small farm development project also includes high potential
areas such as Anuradhapura, Ampara and Polonnaruwa and other major
irrigation schemes, covering 260,000 hectares not to forget the 300,000
hectares of rain fed and minor irrigation schemes.
"Located in the island's varied climatic zones these rain fed small
farms have constantly been neglected," said Abeyratne and continued,"we
have not identified their constraints to increase productivity in these