By Aloka Kasturiarachchi
It is difficult for farmers to harvest as they cannot operate their machines without enough diesel, amid the country’s fuel crisis, National Organiser of All Ceylon Farmers’ Federation Namal Karunaratne claimed.
As a result, farmers are in a very vulnerable position and the harvest for this Yala Season would be even lower than last year’s Maha Season, he stressed.
“Harvesting is still in progress in some places, although crops in most areas have been reaped, farmers need different kinds of machines to harvest but unfortunately those machines need diesel to run. Given the current situation, farmers are unable to find enough fuel,” Karunaratne said.
He said farming equipment can’t be taken to fuel stations so farm hands take plastic cans and wait in queues till they get the needed fuel.
“About seven months ago, it only cost Rs 8,000 to cultivate an acre, but now it costs around Rs 18,000. Fertiliser for an acre used to cost Rs 1,500 but now it costs between Rs 27,000 and Rs. 30,000. Farmers are in a middle of a severe crisis. These farmers take a big risk spending huge amounts of money. They do not get any assistance from the Government. This government is a failure.
This crisis greatly affects this Yala Season because farmers had fertilisers and pesticides bought at old prices during Maha Season last year. They survived for some time with the available products. But now farmers have to buy everything they need for the next season at new prices. But as a group that takes loans for each season, farmers cannot afford the new prices. They are helpless in this situation,” he added.
He also said that there is a seed shortage in the country as well.
“Seed prices are high and now there is a shortage. It is hard to import seeds since there is a dollar crisis in the country. Not only that, now there is no water in the reservoirs and there is no electricity, all of these problems are disadvantages to farmers. Therefore, it would be difficult to have any hope about this Yala Season.