Jaffna facing severe rice shortage
[TamilNet, Thursday, 03 September 1998, 23:02 GMT]
More than seventy percent of Jaffna's rice fields may have to lie fallow due to the unavailability of seed paddy from the southern parts of the island, said sources in the peninsula this afternoon.
The Sri Lankan Department of Agriculture told rice farmers in Jaffna today that they have to prepare their own seed paddy for sowing their fields this season because it is unable to transport seed from the southern districts of the island.
Deputy Director (Jaffna) of Agriculture Mr.T. Sivalokanaathan told the TamilNet correspondent this afternoon that each sowing season since 1996, his department brought, by sea, 270 metric tons of seed paddy from the Tissamaharama district in the southern province.
He said that he was unable to bring the seed paddy for sowing in Jaffna this season because of problems in transporting it by sea.
The demand for seed paddy in Jaffna, when the peninsula was under the LTTE's control, according to him, was met by supplies from the Vanni and the Agriculture Department's large farm in Vattakkachchi, east of Paranthan.
Jaffna farmers said that the belated announcement that there won't be any seed paddy from the south spells disaster for them, especially for those who did not prepare any paddy at all for sowing this season, in the hope of purchasing what they required from the Department's supplies.
If no remedy is found this month, before the sowing starts, less than 25 percent of Jaffna's rice fields can be cultivated said Mr.Sivalokanaathan.
A delegation of farmers' organizations is expected to meet the Jaffna Government Agent next week to discuss this crisis said sources in the Jaffna Kachcheri this afternoon.