Changing Paddy Technology and Productivity Changing Paddy Technology and Productivity in the Peasant Colonisation Schemes of the Dry Zone" H. N. C. FONSEKA 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 The study is based on field work carried out by the writer and on certain unpublished data obtained from the Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Peradeniya.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 1980. 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 n 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- I 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 government. 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 colonies. 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 if 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 price. 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 Karachchi- 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 importance. 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 Rajangana Minipe (old) Kagama Average: 35 Avetage: Average: 45 Income 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 Conclasion 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. References 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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