Rice Intensification to double the harvest
PERADENIYA: SRI (System of Rice Intensification) has yielded almost double paddy harvest with fewer investments, as compared to conventional practice of paddy cultivation in Sri Lanka since the year 2000.
The average production through SRI in the country is 7.6 metric tones per hectare where as the current national average yield is 3.97 metric tones per hectare. SRI produced the highest yield of 15.8 metric tones per hectare from the improved variety of BG 403(a four month variety), and 9.6 metric tones per hectare from Ratbbel, a traditional variety.
SRI requires less water, less seed, more soil organic matter and more soil aeration to achieve the highest productive potential. It is a low-cost, low-input, eco-friendly technique avoiding the use of chemical fertilizer, and pesticide. It reduces health hazards to the farmers.
It is emerging as an alternative to conventional water and chemical intensive rice cultivation. It was originated in Madagascar during 1980s, remained confined there till 1999. Now it is being practised all around the world from a small scale to a larger scale of 40 -50 hectares.
SRI practices involve transplanting only one seedling of 8 to 15 days old per hill at a distance of 25X25 centimetres to 40X40 centimetres based on the nutrient availability of the soil. Plants uptake their required moisture and nutrients, and withstand wind and drought through a maximum of 9 inches deep and well spread root system.
Only minimum water is applied during the vegetative growth period, and then a thin layer of water is maintained. For the nutrients, compost made from any biomass is used. Since not being flooded, weed becomes a problem.
Two to four weeding is practised from 10 to 12 days after transplanting to before canopy closes. Labour saving weeder is used. Motorized weeder, invented by a Sri Lankan farmer, requires 2.5 to 5 days for weeding a hectare of paddy field.
Studies conducted by Sri Lankan farmers found that- SRI requires only 10 kilogram of seed per hectare, and 25 to 50 percent less water than conventional practices. It requires Rs. 3 per kilogram of paddy production, where as that is Rs. 6 per kilogram with conventional practices.
Water signals a new beginning for rural Sri Lanka - World Bank
Water, sanitation and health are inextricably linked and lack of these basic facilities impact heavily on rural communities, which depend on agriculture, livestock breeding, and market gardening to earn a living.
As water resources dwindle, the right to water and equitable access to it has become one of the most compelling issues facing rural Sri Lanka. The Government of Sri Lanka’s commitment to its people is to supply safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for its entire population by the year 2010.
Building critical water services
The World Bank is supporting Sri Lanka’s Second Community Water Supply and Sanitation Project (CWSSP II) to build critical water and sanitation facilities and strengthen the capability of the central and local governments to deliver and manage sustainable water supply and sanitation services.
The development and management of water resources remains a high priority for Sri Lanka given its strategic importance to rural development and poverty reduction. Aiming to improve the health and well-being of rural villages, the project is designed to empower local communities to plan, implement and manage their own water and sanitation schemes.
10% of households have access to tap water
At present this service is at a critical level. Only about 1 out of every 10 households have water on tap and every fifth person relies on rivers, streams and other unprotected water sources for their drinking water.
About 30 per cent of village and small town population have access to safe water sources.
Sanitation levels are equally poor, with almost thirty per cent of the population in villages and small towns not having access to sanitary latrines.
Traditional water sources no longer safe and in short supply
Growing competition among domestic, agricultural, industrial and commercial users has resulted in a shortage of this scarce resource, especially in the dry zones of Sri Lanka. In addition, contamination of water sources and the lack of a regular and reliable water quality testing system have meant that traditional water sources in rural Sri Lanka have become increasingly unsafe. This deterioration in the availability and quality of traditional water sources could be responsible for the country’s declining health standards.