Thursday, November 26, 2009

An interesting follow up to a critical blog entry on the CIC relationship

I was pleasantly surprised that someone within the CIC agribusiness division was alerted to my blog entry as a dissatisfied outgrower for them, as can be seen below dated October 4th. I was contacted by the person who I had accused of not visiting my fields. He had assured me that he had visited when my person on the property was not there, and also that prior to this season he had visited and given advice on planting. He also further reported that has been in telephone contact with my man giving him advice on a regular basis for problems that have cropped up from time to time in relation to growing issues, both in paddy cultivation and in other areas.
His boss had come down hard on him and so he wanted me to set the record straight in the matter. So he had been given a copy of the blog entry and we had a pretty lengthy conversation on each of the points raised with his side of the story.
I did try and remind him that this is part of an agricultural blog that merely expresses my personal opinions on agricultural issues I face without trying to gloss over anything, and at times my version may not appear to tie in with the version that the other party at whom an accusation is made comes up with. It would be nice if he could make a comment in the comment section so his point of view can also get a hearing to balance any perceived bias.
My whole aim in this blog is to engage in discussion with the sole purpose of improving the productivity of my agricultural enterprise and that of others as well so that the country can at a minimum produce twice the current output with little extra effort, except to use improved techniques and methods of agriculture. I have a lot to learn and I want to learn from others experiences, just as I would like others to learn from mine so we don’t have to re invent the wheel, and instead are able to work together. The important thing to note is that we are not competing with each other as we are producing such small quantities ourselves and the competition we face are from overseas competitors of similar products like apples and oranges that currently are even cheaper than fruit grown in Sri Lanka.
I am one of the smallest most inefficient producers of agricultural produce, but the variety of my produce, and the direct to customer distribution and sale makes me the only one in Sri Lanka today who grows both in the dry and wet zones, a reasonably diverse range of products that I directly sell to my customers on home delivery on Mondays. The experience of survival this has given me through an incredible level of suffering over the past 5 years cannot be appreciated by a small farmer or an administrator not tasked with this multi- disciplinary work load.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oh when will we get the water to plough the fields for the coming season!

At the best of time paddy farming is a very precarious enterprise, but when we were initially told that the water would be given to get our fields ready on October 20th we were hopeful at being able to plant early. However today the 10th of November and we still have no idea of when the water would be given. There have been rains in the past 10 days and the Minneriya tank is pretty full with excess water being sent on one channel via Rotawewa to Kantale Tank and the other channel to the Kaudulla Tank, both for irrigation purposes.
When a farmer is faced with uncertainty like this it is difficult for him to schedule his time effectively, and those that make decisions in Sri Lanka who are usually not the people who are affected by them, do not realize the importance of those decisions for those dependant on them for their livelihoods.
I have decided this season to try and optimize output in both properties I farm in, and to that extent am using what I have experienced to be the two varieties that have done best on the land based on my six harvests to date. It will be sudu kekulu on my fields sown the traditional way and pokuru samba on my sister’s fields being transplanted after preparing a nursery ahead of the water being given, as it is a 4 month variety in comparison to the former that is a 100day one.
This time I just need the yield to be able to sell the produce immediately on harvest as I have a desperate need to encash the harvest for funding needs as opposed to keeping it stored to be sold over time after making it into rice. To that extent I will be reduced this season to that of the same plight as all my neighbors who live from harvest to harvest.
It is interesting to tell the reader that we expect this to be the last season where we receive heavily subsidized fertilizer, and without saying so, the authorities have forced us all to show compost preparation pits of a minimum size prior to receiving the state subsidy. It is a carrot and stick approach as it is deemed that farmers will not otherwise produce compost if they are not compelled to do so. As I have dairy cattle in Meegoda, I took enough steer manure to prepare the compost, but most of my neighboring farmers are scouring the fields to collect cow dung in all the fields cattle have grazed, thereby depriving the fields of the natural composting they have hitherto enjoyed. The problem is as always it was a last minute order, rather than a well planned request which gives the farmer about 6 months to prepare. Our compost pits will not be ready to be spread around the fields this season anyway so I imagine this is to prepare for the inevitable in the next season from May2010.