Poor quality seed leads to low harvest
By Eunice Ruth and Saman Nadungamuwa
Farmers of Welimada, Boralanda and Pitapola, said that they have lost their harvest due to the imported potato seeds and agricultural sector officials not resolving their problem regarding quality seeds as a result the harvest suffered.
They said the major reason behind the spoiled harvest was the quality of imported potato seeds. The seeds were planted with high expectations of making a good harvest. “However, with time, all our plants got spoiled and currently, we are suffering”, they added.
A farmer, Amarathunga Ubesekara, said that they have been cultivating potatoes for many years and this was their major source of income. Farmers bought and started cultivating these seeds and were expecting a good harvest at the end of the season. Meanwhile, he said at least for the next season they were expecting quality seeds. He also said,”We have different seeds in the market. However, the quality of seeds were not good for cultivation and as such, we are forced to buy seeds from local sellers”, he said.
“We have informed the authorities over the spoiled harvest and seed quality and they have visited to inspect the situation. However, up until today, no decision has been taken in this regard and no compensation has been given to farmers for the loss they suffered due to poor quality seeds. Officials should check on the quality of seeds and help us to maximise our cultivation by providing the necessary assistance’ Ubesekara said.
L. M. Ariyarthne
Ariyarthne, another farmer said they spend more than Rs 18, 000 to buy imported potato seeds for cultivation. “Along with the cultivation costs we spend more than Rs 35, 000 for the whole process. At the beginning, the plants grow well without any problem and later, after a month, the leaves wither and the plant dies. When we dug up and look at the roots of the plant, the potatoes are spoiled while, only some plants were in good condition and because of that we receive a very small income”.
He also said they use the seeds from one harvest to another and if their harvests get spoiled, then they will suffer without having seeds for the next harvest. “We are in a desperate situation due to the poor quality foreign potato seeds”:, he said.
D. M. Sugathapala
Sugathapala said they had no money to cultivate on their own. They mortgage their properties and borrow money to cultivate. “Prices of seed and fertiliser were high, however, we spend a lot of money to cultivate so that we will get a reasonable profit. Potato cultivation is the main source of income for these farming families in the village”, he said.
“We, the farmers buy these foreign potatoes because the quantity of seed potatoes which was produced locally by the agricultural sector was insufficient for cultivation. Unfortunately, day by day all our plants are getting spoiled and we are finding it hard to make ends meet and lead our daily lives. We expect to receive a high income from potato cultivation. However, due to these losses, we even suffer as we find it difficult to payback the debts. We request the authorities to look into this issue by providing compensation to farmers who have lost their harvest and to derive a proper method to provide seeds for cultivation,” Sugathapala said.
National Organiser of All Ceylon Farmers’ Federation, Namal Karunaratne said the Government should compensate farmers for losses they incur as they spend a lot of money and effort to cultivate. He further said, the Government provides guidance and help to cultivate and the State’s should take care of farmers.
He said for one acre of land, 16 metric tons of seed were needed and a metric ton of seeds cost more than Rs13, 000. However, even if the farmers use 16 metric tons for cultivation they still get only eight metric tons of the harvest.
“Potato farmers spend more than other vegetable farmers and sometimes they are even unable to use machinery to plough the land. Sometimes, farmers use imported seed to get a good harvest in a short time and when it results in a spoiled harvest, farmers lose out. They should be more aware while buying seeds and cultivating,” said Karunaratne.