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Sunday, 3 August 2014

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Drought affects agriculture

The prevailing drought will cause a setback in economic growth this year, economic analysts said.

Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Moneragala, Ampara, Hambantota, Puttalam, Trincomalee, Mannar, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu districts are now experiencing a severe drought.

Economic activities of the people, mainly agriculture, have been seriously affected as a result.

Analysts said that drought will slow down agriculture sector growth and as the government has to launch relief measures and pay compensation it will add a fiscal burden. Agriculture accounted for 10.8 percent of the GDP in 2013.

Paddy farming in major agriculture areas has already been affected. Lower agriculture output will lead to high food prices.

In some areas people face severe hardship and they do not have water even for drinking purposes and according to government estimates 11,459 families have been severely affected.

The Government has already implemented a number of programs to provide concessions to the affected. People who have lost their livelihoods will be identified and employed in micro-scale development projects such as renovating small irrigation canals and rural roads.

They will be given eight to 12 days work per month with a maximum payment of Rs.6,000.

Excess silt and mud sediment in reservoirs and tanks will be removed and distributed free among rural brick and tile manufacturers. Government has also relaxed import restrictions on rice to maintain supply and keep prices stable.

Drought stricken families will be provided with drinking water using bowsers and 600 agri wells will also be renovated in selected areas.

The Disaster Management Ministry will purchase 100 water bowsers within the next few days.

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