; L.J.POLLOCK PhD Thesis00018
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L.J.POLLOCK PhD Thesis00018


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									The lowland dry zone, where this project took place, covers an area representing 70%

of Sri Lanka’s land. The rainfall in the dry zone is between 651-1900 mm per annum

falling in two monsoon seasons, which correspond to the South Asian Northwest and

Southeast monsoons. These two seasons are known as maha (late September to

February) which accounts for 60-70% of rainfall and yala (late February – June),

which accounts for 20-40%. Maha is the major cultivation season.

             Local institutional structure

Beyond these agro-ecological zones the country is divided into 9 Provinces and 25

districts. Within each district there is a layer of Divisional Secretariats which contain

some 30-40 Grama Niladhari (GN) divisions. Each GN division comprises around 4-

8 villages. The Grama Niladhari office has a resident Samurdhi Niyamake officer

who is responsible for overseeing the distribution of the government’s Samurdhi

benefit scheme, which provides a basic welfare payment to families on a means-tested

basis. Records of all village births, deaths and marriages are also kept with the

Samurdhi Niyamake. The Samurdhi Niyamake is often appointed from the local

village and has detailed local knowledge of the socio-economic status of many of the

villagers whom they serve.

             Sri Lankan Agriculture

Approximately 80% of Sri Lankans live in rural areas. People living in these rural

areas are highly dependent on agriculture with 41.5% of the employed women and

35.4% of employed men are engaged in agriculture and allied sectors (FAO, undated).

The state is the dominant landlord in Sri Lanka and imposes restrictions on land sales

and uses (Ross and Savada, 1988). Constraints to agricultural development such as

irrigation subsidies and a trend towards off-farm employment in rural areas drive
farmers into a repetitive cycle of paddy cultivation year on year, with less potential to

farm higher-value crops for profit. The majority of irrigated cultivation is of paddy,

which is the staple of the Sri Lankan diet. Cultivation of vegetable crops in home

gardens and chena, a form of slash and burn agriculture in small cleared jungle plots,

is also commonly practiced.

Macro-economic policies have negatively affected farmers over the years and eroded

the returns from farming.     In a drive to succeed in agricultural self-sufficiency,

government policy prior to 1977 provided farmers with assured markets and stable

prices for their produce (Weeragoda, 1998).         This was coupled with extensive

promotion of pesticides to farmers and other input subsidies. Post 1977 a change of

government led to a shift in policy and abolishment of the protectionism from which

Sri Lankan farmers had benefited. Trade liberalisation policies sought to encourage

greater   market    orientation   and   increase    efficiencies   amongst    producers

(Kodithuwakku, 1997).       Export orientated economic growth was another key

objective. Farmers have failed to make a significant impact on the export market due

to poor access to suitable market channels for their produce (Sinathamby and

Noguchi, 1997; Narapalasingam, 1999). Globalisation and in particular, the influence

of cheap agricultural produce from India, have exacerbated competition in the export

market and cheap imports of Indian produce such as onion and chilli have contributed

to farmers’ woes. With little opportunity to export their produce many farmers feel

compelled to cultivate traditional rice varieties which are less water efficient,

retaining the majority for household consumption and selling any remaining seasonal

surpluses in the local marketplace.

        1.11.1 Inland water resources

Sri Lanka has no natural lakes and many of the tanks in Sri Lanka are formed from

ancient irrigation reservoirs, some as many as 2000 years old. Little has changed to

the planning and layout of the irrigation schemes (De Silva, 1988). Many of the

ancient irrigation works have now been rehabilitated to serve their purpose for

agriculture, although there are many minor irrigation schemes that remain

undiscovered and are not apparent on the maps. Ancient reservoirs in Sri Lanka are

generally shallow, between 5-10m in depth, not exceeding 15m at full supply level

and have a small gradient (De Silva, 1988). The water availability in many of the

tanks varies in response to demand for water for irrigation purposes and in response to

rainfall. Some irrigation reservoirs also receive drainage water from other areas of the

irrigation system.

        1.11.2 Sri Lankan Fisheries and Aquaculture


The fisheries sector plays a vital role contributing as much as 65 – 70 % of the animal

protein to the Sri Lankan diet and accounts for up to 81% of animal protein in rural

areas of the country’s dry zone (Nathaniel, 2000).         The mean per capita fish

consumption of Sri Lankans is 16.9 kg/year. Ariyapala (1956) has reported that

inland fisheries have existed on an artisanal basis as far back as the 13th Century B.C.

Around 90% of the country’s consumption needs are caught from Sri Lankans marine

and inland fisheries, the remaining 10% met by imports. The inland and capture

fisheries have developed since 1970 with the assistance of hatchery-based inputs from

international donors such as IDRC, JICA and FAO and production from the inland

fishery increased as a direct result. However, the introduction of the exotic cichlid O.

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