Changing Paddy Technology and Productivity in the Peasant by ghkgkyyt


									Changing Paddy Technology and Productivity

Changing Paddy Technology and Productivity in the
Peasant Colonisation Schemes of the Dry Zone"

     The establishment of Government sponsored peasant colonisation
schemes in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka in order to relieve population pressure
in the congested areas of the Wet Zone and to increase domestic paddy
production commenced in the mid 1930s. There are at present 98 peasant
colonies in the Dry Zone with a total extent of 400,330 acres under cultivation
and 96,795 allottees in 1977.l

       The standard size of an individual paddy allotment is five acres in
colonies established before 1955 and three acres thereafter. In the Gal Oya
(left bank) colony the paddy allotment was three acres even before 1955. In
the early sixties the size of the paddy allotment was further reduced to two
acres. The entire extent of the allotment is cultivated during Maha and Yala
except in areas where deficiencies of irrigation water are experienced during
 Yala. Such areas are left fallow.

      The present paper attempts to survey the changes in technology of
paddy cultivation and their effects on productivity in the Dry Zone colonies
with reference to three periods of time : 1958159, 1967168 and 1972173. The
study is based on field work carried out by the writer and on certain
unpublished data obtained from the Department of Agricultural Economics,
University of Peradeniya.

Techniques of Cultivation
      That traditional unselected varieties of seed paddy used by the allottees,
in their home villages before settlement in the colonies had largely given way
to pure-line, improved and the new high yielding varieties of seed paddy in the
colonisation schemes. During the early stages of colonisation in the Dry Zonc
pure-line seed paddy had been issued free to the colonists at settlement.
During the Maha season of 1958159, only 13% of the allottees intcrviewed in
the Kagama (new) colony used pure-line varieties, while the remaining 87%
used traditional unselected varieties. During Maha 1972173, in the same
     A revised version of a paper presented at the Ceylon Studies Seminar : Conference on
     Post-War Economic Development of Sri Lanka, University of Peradeniya, Decomber
1.   Source of Statistics : Department of the Land Commissionar and the River Valleys
     Development Board.
colony, 55% of the allottees interviewed used inproved varieties, while 39%
used the new high yielding varieties 2nd only 6% used old pure-line seeds.
Att he Unnichchai Colony only 30% of the farmers interviewed used pure-line
varieties during Maha 1959160, while 70% used improved varieties during
Maha i972173. It was found that at Parakrama Samudra Colony, 57% of
the farmers used the new high yielding varieties, while 36% used improved
varieties and only 7% old pure-lines in Maha 1972173. At the Gal-Oya
left bank colony during the cultivation year 1966167 it was observed that
improved varieties had superceded pure-lines.

      Traditional unselected varieties of of seed paddy are propagated by the
farmers themselves and they set aside a part of the paddy from each
season's harvest to be used as seed for the following season. Pure-line,
improved and the new high yielding varieties are propagated at the plant
breeding centres of the Department of Agriculture and distributed to farmers.
Murungakayan and Pachchaiperumal were the most popular out of the
pure-line varieties and were cultivated during Maha and Yala respectively.
Some farmers cultivated a shorter maturing variety as Bala-Illankali or
Heenati during Yala over a part of the extent of the allotment when they
were short of time to prepare the entire extent for the longer maturing
varieties. The H varieties were the most popklar of the improved varieties in
use, and their yield potential had been estimated to be quite high. H 4 and
H 8 were grown widely during Maha and Yala. The new high yielding
varieties included BG 11-11 BG 34-8, L.D.66, M.I. 273 and the IR varieties.
 BG 11-11 was by far the most popular among these varieties.
      The improved and the new high yielding varieties had largely displaced
the pureline seeds which were quite popular during the early phase of
colonisation. Farmers using the improved and high yielding varieties are
advised by the Department of Agriculture to change their seed paddy once
in three years by obtaining fresh stocks from the Co-operatives or the
Agriculture Department seed stores. Most farmers had not followed this
 advice and instead continued to use seed from each season's harvest, as
 a result of which, these varieties had lost their original quality and puritj~.
 It was the complaint of inany farmers that supplies of seed paddy atthe
 local Co-opsratives and Seed stores sold at subsidised prices were inadequate
 and also were not available at tho time they needed them. They also said
 that the richer farmers among them however obrained supplies of seed
 irregularly by paying a higher price. Farmers too discounted the quality of the
 seed; it was mixed, adulterated and it encouraged weed growth. However the
 writer came across several progressive farmers who had obtained quite-highyields
 by using fresh seed paddy obtained from the Government every three years.
    Changing Paddy Tec??nologyand Productivity                                73

          Mammoties locally made at the villzge blacksmiths' workshops were
    mostljl used in the preparation of the fields in theallottees home villages
     prior to their settlement in the colonies. Once established in the colonies,
    the farmers began to use both the locally made mammoty and the imported
    mammoty. The allottees found that the locally made mammoty though
    ideally suited to the preparation of the fields cultivated by generations
    in their villages is not suitable to work with on the new ground in the
    colonies. The blade did not dig deep enough and was not strong enough
    to resist the impact when it came into contact with the many tree stumps
    to be found. While the locally made mammoty was preferred to the
    imported mammoty to set up field bunds, the imported mammoty was
    considered better suited for deep digging. Sincc the imposition of the
    ban by the Government on the import of mammoties, those manufactured
    by the State Hardware Corporation and the Kotmale Co-operative Workshops
    under the District Development Councils programme had taken the place of
    the imported mammoties.

          The allottees it] their villages of origin used the simple wooden
    plough drawn by a pair of bullocks for preliminary tillage except some
    cultivators in the purana villages of the Polonnaruwa District who had
    prepared the fields only by mudding with bullocks. In the colonies, prelimi-
    nary tillage was done with both the traditional wooden plough and the
    light iron plough drawn by a pair of buffaloes. In .the Pzrakrarna Samudra
    Colony 72% of the allottees interviewed used the iron plough while in the
    Kagarna (new) Colony this percentage was 60 in 1958159. There was a slight
    increase in the number of allottees using the iron plough during 1972173.
    The iron plough was preferred to the wooden plough for the first ploughing
    of the hardened ground in the relatively newer lands of the colonies while
    the wooden plough was considered to be more suited for the second
    ploughing. Sometimes a third ploughing too was done with the wooden
    plough. The rapid clearance of forests in the Dry Zone resulting in a
    dearth of timber necessary to make these wooden ploughs had led many
    farmers to use the iron plough; Some considered that the iron plough is
    superior to the wooden plough.

          A11 over the colonisation schemes of the Dry Zone, tractors were
-   increasingly replacing buffdoes in providing the draught 'power for tillage
    and threshing. In 1958153, 57% of the allottees interviewed in the Parakrama
    Samudra Colony used tmctors, while the percentage in Minipe was 31, Kagama
    29, Unnichchai 24 and Karachchi-Ira-namad 90. E 1967168, tractors
    accounted for-nearly 90% of the costs of hired draught power for tillage and
74                                                           H. N. C. Fonseka

threshing in Minneriya; this percentage was 80 in Padaviya, 75 in Hakwatunu-
Oya, 60 iq Rajangana and 80 & Minipe. In 1972173, it was seen that 45% of
the total paddy acreage was tractor ploughed in Nachchaduva, 19%in Usgala
Siyabalangamuwa, 95% in Kandalama, 21% in Giritale,-30% in Kaudulla and
90% in Kantalai. Several factors had contributed to the increasing use of
tractors: (1) The rigid time-limit laid down for the completion of the
preparation of fields by the regulation of the supply of water by the Depart-
ment of Irrigation and the fear that delay to thresh would expose the harvest
to the rains; (2) Seasonal shortages of labour due to inadequate family
labour, the average size of the family work force being 3-4 in 1972173, and the
difficultiesencountered by the allottees to obtain attan or exchange of labour
due to the heterogeneous society in colonisation schemes arising from the
nature of settlement; (3) Shortages of buffaloes due to insufficient pasture
grounds, hence the general problem of their maintenance and therefore a
tendency to sell the animals for slaughter; (4) Convenience and speed when
work was done by tractors. Generally the 20-40 HP size rubber-tyred four
wheeled tractor was used. Only a few farmers owned tractors. Most farmers
hence had to hire tractors either from government tractor pools which were
too few or from the private mudalalies, who charged twice as much as the

      Despite the popularity of the tractors, there were farmers who wished to
carry on with the traditional methods using animals. Some thought that no
machine could surpass the beneficial influence of the buffaloes' feet in the
preparation of the soil for paddy. A few allottees considered that threshing
the harvest with machines tended to break the seed and thereby reduced its
value as seed paddy, while one farmer told the writer that using a tractor to
thresh was considered to be an insult to paddy in their circles. The allottees     '

who used tractors were themselves sometimes not satisfied with the work
done by tractors. It was the experince of every one that these large machines
were not suitable to plough small liaddas, parts got left out and fields bunds
tended to break. The high costs of privately owned tractors and the inabi-
lity to obtain them on credit were limiting factors in the use of tractors
among allottees. The use of tractors per se did not contribute to an increase
in paddy yields but the fact that timely cultivation and threshing were ensured,
resulted in an increase in production.

      Most allottees had sown their paddy broadcast in the home villages prior
to settlement. In the colonies, the allottees were aware that transplanting was
beneficial to the paddy plant and resulted directly in increased yields and also
that the practice of this method permitted a greater degree of weed control.
The practice of transplanting varied markedly among the colonies as seen by the
Changing Paddy Technology and Productivity                                     75

statistics relating to its practice shown in Table 1. It was extensively practised
during Maha on parts of the lowland allotments varying in size from about
half an acre to about two acres. Some allottees transplanted the full extent
of their allotments. Thus while'20% of the allottees interviewed transplanted
the full extent of the allotment in the Parakrama Samudra Colony in 1958159,
9 % of the altottees interviewed did so in Gal-Oya (left bank) colony in
1967168. The writer found that transplanting was widely practised by allottees
from the Kegalle and Kandy districts settled in the colonies. It may be
mentioned that transplanting is a traditional practice in these areas and these
allottees had practised this method in their home villages. Transplanting has
to be done by trained labour. At critical times in the agricultural calendar
there was a shortage of such labour in the colonies. Then the allottees were
in the habit of getting down trained labour from outside, usually from their
home areas. Allottees had to meet the cost of transport, food and in addition
pay a daily wage, which was about Rs. 51-. Transplanting was restricted to
limited extents of allotments due to a number of factors: (1) The size of
the allotment, even three acres of lowland was too large to be completed
within the limited time during which irrigation water was made available;
(2) Shortages of family labour, the average size of the family work force was
about three to four, transplanting was usually done by the allottee's wife and
grown-up daughters, who invariably were preoccupied with household work;
(3) Only the well-to-do people among the allottees could afford the expendi-
ture of hiring labour from outside, about ten labourers were needed to
transplant one acre in a day and the cost hence turned out to be quite consi-
derable, the others had to depend on attan or exchange of labour, the
availability of which was quite limited; (4) Sandy soils which lacked the
property of water retention, this prevented the practice of transplanting over
large areas of the Gal-Oya (left bank) colony; (5) Undulating nature of
land in some allotments which encourage an outflow of water, standing water
is necessary for the practice of transplanting, this problem was particularly
seen in the Karachchi-Iranamadu and Unnichchai colonies. Very little trans-
planting was usually done in Yala, because this season being short there was
not sufficient time to plant the paddy and also a shortage of irrigation water was
experienced in moat colonisation schemes. All the allottees except a few had
obtained higher yields of paddy by transplanting than by broadcast sowing.
The majority of them had obtained ten to twenty bushels more per acre and
a few even 30 to 40 bushels more.
     Organic manure (farm yard ,and green manure) had been widely used by
most allottees in their home areas. Organic marlure was used in colonisation
schemes during the early years on a lesser scale than. in the villages. but sub-
sequently this type of manure gave way t a artificial fertilisers. Artificial
76                                                                                   H. N. C. Fonseka

fertilisers were preferred by allottees to organic manure. Thus in 1958159, it
was found that 2 1% of the allottees interviewed in the Parakrama Samudrzi
colony used organic manure, while in Minipe, the percentage was 47, in
ICagama 16, in Unnichchai 58 and in Karachchi Irznamzdu 50. The Jaffna
and Batticalos Tamil farmers had a tradition of using a heavy dose of organic
manure and they continued to do so in the colonies. The Sinhala allottees
who applied organic manure did not do so systematically. It was not applied
over the full extent of the allotment. Only the areas where the paddy plants
were not growing well were treated. The limited use of organic manure was
largely due to the shortage of animals in the colonies. Even when allottees
possessed animals they had to be pastured in neighbouring forests sometimes
several miles away as a result of which there were difficulties in collecting
and transporting the manure. Little use was made of green manures too,
because ot the problems of transporting green leaf from areas around the
                                                TABLE 1
                                      Extent of Transplanting:
                                 Percentage of Allottees Interviewed

                    1958159                            1967168                              1972173
      '   Colorry             Percen-         Colony              Percen -         Colony             Percen-
                              tage                                  tage                               jtage

Parakrama Samudra               71      Rajangana           ..               Nachchaduwa         ..      7
Minipe ela (old) -.             55      Minipe -ela (old) . .                Usgala Siyabalan-
Kagama (new)      .             96      Gal-Oya (left bank). .                   garnuwa         ..      55
                                        Karachchi                            Kandalama           ..      35
Unnichchai                      27          Jranamadu         -              Giritale            ..      74
Karachchi-.                             Allai               ..               Kaudulla            ..   .. 74
    Iranamadu            ..     11      Padaviy a           ..               Kantalai            ..      20
                                        Minneriya           . .              Kagama (new)        ..      84
                                        Hakwatunu Oya       - -
                                        Mahavilachchiya .
     Average:            -.     52          Average:        .-       36          Average:               50

      Many more allottees were using artificial fertiliser in colonies than in
their home areas. Further the extent of the use of artificial fertiliser had
increased over the years as was seen in the statistics with regard to fertiliser
use given in Table 2. Still, fertiliser use for paddy. i-n the Dry Zone of Sri
Lanka was very much below optinium levels though-fertiliser was made avai-
lable to the farmers at subsidised rates as a special inducement to greater use.
The extended credit scheme of the Government, which provided easy facilities
Changing Paddy Technology and Productivity                                                77

to farmers to obtain the necessary inputs and the popularity of the improved
and high yielding varieties of seed paddy, which necessitate the use of fertiliser
had also contributed to its iocreased use. However the ziiilounts of fertiliser
used and the extents of the allotments fertilised varied widely between the
colonies. In 1972173, it was found that few farmers used the recommended
dose of 3.5 cwt. per acre. The amounts used varied from 1 - 4 cwt per acre                     .
to 2 . 9 cwt per acre. The extent of the allotment fertilised varied from 50% to
90%. Usually fertiliser was used to the same level in Maha and Yala, but in
colonies which experienced deficiencies of water during Yala the use of ferti-
liser was less than in Maka. The recommended dose was not applied 2nd the
full extent of the allotment was not fertilised because of the cost. Those who
were not using fertiliser gave the following rcasons: (1) Inability to afford
the expenditure; (2) Fields did not require any manuring; (3) Artificial
 fertiliser encouraged the leafy growth of the paddy plant at the expen:e of the
 grain; (4) Fertiliser~ used once had to be used regularly, otherwise there
was an unfavourable reaction on the yields. Those who used fertiliser obtai-
ned yield increases from 5% to 40%. There were quite a number of instances
of farmers reporting very high yields with traditional varieties and little or no
fertiliser application. There was also an equally large number of cases where
farmers reported that after faithfully following the package of practices, their
results had been disappointing. The allottees who used fertiliser co~nplained
that at times certain Co-operatives had no fertiliser for sale. It was available in
the open market but at a much higher price than the government subsidised
                                    TABLE 2
                    Extent of the Use of Artificial Fertiliser :
                     Percentage of the Allottees Interviewed
           1958159                        1967168                         1972173

       Colony        Percen-         Colony         Percen-                         Percen-
                      tage                            tage                           tage

Parakrama Samudra 43       .   Minipe                  88     Nachchaduwa            85
                               Gal-Oya (Left Bank) -   85
Minipe (old)          78       Mahavilachchiya         48     Usgala-
Kagama (new)           5       Hakwatuna Oya           22       Siyabalangamuwa      26
                               Minneriya               88     Kandalama              54
Unnichchai            26       Padaviya                51
                               Allai                   66     Giritale               80
 Iranamadu            92       Karachchi                      Kaudulla               69
                                 Iranamadu             92
                               Rajangana        -       5     ICantalai              85
Average:              40       Average:                61     Average:               67
     In 1958159, the writer found that many people did not weed their flelds
systematically and well. Wherever the weeds were conspicuous and consi-
derable they were removed and vacancies filled. Since then weeding had been
adopted more extensively by the allottees (Table 3). Hand weeding and
chemical weeding were both practised, but the relative importance varied
between the colonies.

      The full extent of allotments were not weeded. Shortages of family
labour, difficulties of obtaining attan and the high costs of hired labour res-
tricted the practice of hand weeding. Although farmers claimed a high
degree of control of weeds with chemicals, only a few adhered strictly to the
recommended dosage or to the precise time of spraying. Field experience
showed that weed control measures practised by the allottees were unsatis-
factory. The high cost of the chemicals was a contributory factor. It was
seen that where transplanting was widely practised weeding was of less

                                 TABLE 3
             Extent of Weeding: Percentage of Allottees Interviewed

           1958159                          1967168                                 1972173
                       Percen-         Colony          Percen-                 Colony         Percen-
       Colony           tage                            tage                                   1age     ,

Parakr arna Sarnudra    45       Gal-Oya (left Bank)           34   .   Nachchaduwa            42
                                 Padaviya                      38
Minipe-ela (old)        36       Hakwatunu Oya                 24       Usgala-
                                 Mahavilachchiya               28         Siyabalangamuwa      43
Kagarna (new)           36       Minneriya                     40
                                 Allai                         32       Kandalama              39
Unnichchai              23       Karachchi- ,
                                   Iranamadu                   25       Giritale               53
Karachchi-                       Rajangana                     45
 Iranarnadu             26       Minipe-ela (old)              34       Kaudulla        '
                                 Kagama (new)
                                    -     .    ,               37
                                                           -   -        Kantalai
Average:                35       ~verage:         -    .       34       Average:               45

Paddy yields
      Paddy yields in colonisation schemes had not improved to any significant
extent over the yfiars. As reported by many of the allottees interviewed, there
was a general declining trend in paddy yields. The use of improved and high
yielding varieties of seed paddy had not given the expected results. Even
farmers reporting loo.% adoption of the new varieties reported wide variations
 Changing Paddy Technology and Productivity                                               79

 in yields. The following factors could be considered as responsible for this
 state of affairs: (1) Shortages of water during Yala. Irrigation tanks per-
formed more than a supplemental function even during the Maha, which is
the rainy season, with the result that water supplies were usually inadequate
for full cropping during the YaIa which is the dry season. These deficiencies
became greater away ftom the source of supply ; (2) Problems of irrigation
as defective field channels and situation of fields above the level of the
channels which did not ensure the ready flow of water to the allotments;
(3) Lack of effective control regarding the distribution of water to the
allotments, which resulted in irregular tapping by some allottees causing
deficiencies to others, particularly to those at the tail end of channels. The
institutional framework provided to ensure an equitable distribution of
irrigation water to the allotments did not function satisfactorily; (4) Limited
adoption of improved technology : transplanting, fertilizer and weedicides
due to the financial problems of allottees; (5) Inherent weakness of the
system of land classification adopted in colonisation schemes, resulting in the
categorisation as paddy land, areas unsuited topaddy, simply because of their
easy irrigability.

                                         TABLE 4
                    Average Paddy Yield in Bushels Per Acre for
                                 Maha and Yala

               1958/59                      1967168                        1972173
      Colony             Yield         Colony          Yield         Colony           i d
                                                                                     Y eI

Parakrama Samudra        45      Gal-Oya (left Bank)           Nachchaduwa           43
Minipe-ela (old)         36      Padaviya                      Usgala - Siyabalan-
Kagama (new)             36      Hakwatunu Oya                      gamuwa           44
Unnichchai               23      Mahavilachchiya               Kandalama             39
Karachchi-Iranamadu      24      Minneriya                     Giritale              54
                                 Allai                         Kaudulla              43
                                 Karachchi-Iranamadu           Kantalai              45
                                 Minipe (old)
    Average:             35          Avetage:                     Average:           45

      It is seen that the average net incomes of the allottees had not increased
significantly over the years. The incomes bear a strong correspondence to
the yields of paddy since the major portion of the harvest was sold. Further
80                                                                  H. N. C. Fonseka

the cost of production of paddy had increased many .times during this period
particularly due to the energy crisis. In 1958159, the average cost of production
of an acre of paddy was about Rs. 1001- while in 1972173 it was about
Rs. 8001-. Statistics of average net income reveal that the majority of the
allottees received low to medium incomes (Table 5).

                                        TABLE 5
           Average Net Income from the Sale of Paddy in Rupees

             1958/59                      1967168                       1972173
      Colony           Income       Colony          Income        Colony          Zncomr

Parakrama Samudra      1500 Gal-Oya (left Bank)     2100 Nachchaduwa
                            Karachchi-                                            3300
Mhipe-ela (old)        2000   Iranamadu             1000     Usgala-
                       lSOO Minipeela (old)
                                                    2000       Siyabalangamuwa     900
Kagarna (new)
                            Minneriya               5000 Giitale                  2400
Unnichchai              500 Allai                   1300
                            Mal~avilachchiya        1500 Kandalama                 400
Karachchi-             1500 Hakwatunu Oya
 Iranamadu                                           350 Kaudulla                 1600
                            Padaviya                1400
                            ~ajangana               1800 Kantalai                 2000
Ave~age:                1400 Average:               1800 Average:                  1 700

      Paddy cultivation constituted the major source of the allottees' cash
income since about 80 - 85 percent of the harvest is sold. Paddy yields in the
colonisation schemes refbrred to (Table 4) averagd 33 bushels per acre during
the agricultural year 1958159,34 bushels per acre during 1967168and 45 bushels
per acre during 1972173. It was seen that the improved and the new high
yielding varieties of seed paddy had largely replaced the older pure-line seed
and the traditional village varieties. Tillage operations had improved over the
years with an increasing use of tractors. There had not been an increase in
the use of fertiliser and the amounts used were very much below optimum
levels. Weed control measures practised by the farmers were unsatisfactory.

     The increase of per acre paddy yields recorded in 1972173 could be attri-
buted to the widespread use of the new high yielding varieties particularly
BG 11-11. But the expected results from the use of these new varieties had
not been realised by the farmers. The average net income of allottees was
Changing Paddy Technology and Productivity                                 81

Rs. 1400/= during 1958159, Rs. 1800/= during 1967168 and Rs. 1700/= during
1972173. These incomes reflected the state of the paddy yields and the increa-
sing costs of production.

      The basic problem appears to be that the package approach had not been
followed by the farmers. Improved and new high yielding varieties of seed,
transplanting, fertiliser recommendations and effective weed control did not
appear to have gone together. Problems of availability and distribution of
irrigati~nwater-had aggravated this. The farmers were faced with numerous
problems in this regard and more research has to be carried out.
1. Summary Reports of the Socio-Economic Survey of Nine Colonisation Schemes in
   Ceylon 1967-68 (Unpublished). Department of Agricultural Economics, University
   of Sri Lanka, Peradeniya, June 1969.

2.   An Economic Survey of Six Major Colonisation Schemes, 1973, Department of
     Agricultural Economics, University of Sri Lanka, Peradeniya, May 1974.

3.   Parakrama Samudra Colony, An Example of Peasant Colonisation in the Dry Zone
     of Ceylon, Journal of Tropical Geography, Volume twenty two, June 1966, pp. 1-22

4.   The Agricultural Geography of the Karacl~chi-Iranamadu Colony, Jourwl of the
     National Agricultural Society of Ceylon, Volume 4, June 1967, pp. 51-68

5.   Minipe-ela (old) Colony: A Peasant Settlement Scheme in the Dry Zone, The Ceylon
     Geographer, Volume 19, Nos. 1-4, 1965, pp. 25-32

6.    Unnichchai Colony: The Agricultural Geography of a Peasant Colonisation schemes
      in the Dry Zone, The Ceylon Journal of Historic and Social Studies, Volume 9, No. 2,
     .July-December, 1966, pp. 20-23.

7.   Kagama (New) Colony: An Analysis of the Agricultural Geography of a Dry Zone
     Colonisation scheme, University of Ceylon Review, Vol. XXIV, Nos, 1 & 2, April
     and October, 1966, pp. 76-87.

8. L q d Use Problems in the Gal Oya (Left Bank) Peasant Colony, University of Ceylon
   Review, Volume XXV, Nos. 1 & 2, April-October, 1967, pp. 96-102.

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