Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Drought - Tobacco Company – in the farmer’s pocket – or the other way round




There is a huge ongoing issue in the Bakamuna Elahera, Yoda Ela stretch, Mahaweli H zone I believe it is called. No water has been supplied to the farmers after a promise that water would be released on May 1st. Water was released for a few days, which confused the farmers into getting ready for planting and then it was stopped. No water has been sent subsequently.

Firstly the farmers who jumped into preparing their lands were left high and dry licking their losses. Then the Tobacco Company reps jumped in and offered an alternative of growing tobacco where they will supply all the inputs without having to lay down any money and will only deduct the costs once the harvest is in from the final proceeds, which suited many farmers. Many of the people with connections to the local politicians, who promised them the minimum water, got into that line and are continuing this cultivation to the disgust of the farmers who did not, and the anti tobacco NGOs who are complaining that there is a mafia controlling the limited water supply to supply the tobacco plantations.

THERE IS NO DRINKING WATER let alone water for cultivation. The Problem is acute, within a month the people will explode into violence against the inability of the government to act and their continuing to help their own friends and connections in the Tobacco Cultivations.

WE MUST DO SOMETHING TO HELP THEM. They have NOWHERE TO TURN. GO SEE FOR YOURSELF THIS IS NO JOKE.

No one to hear their plight. They believe the politicians are far removed from their daily problems and as the politicos cannot solve their immediate problems prefer to stay away in 5 star AC comfort in Colombo. Even the President who turned up at Elahera about a month ago, hooked it back to his Helicopter and flew away into the sunset, and did not wait to make the speech he was supposed to, as he would have been lynched by the people for saying things that do not mean anything to them.

The problems have got so acute as even drinking water is at a premium with wells running dry as the traditional Yoda Ela Canal is not supplying even a trickle of water for bathing as there is no water in the Mahaweli system to supply the diversion through Polgolla that comes into this area.

The Govt. DOES NOT give subsidized fertilizer for tobacco so the tobacco farmers are completely on their own, with advice from their reps to manage their plantations, and the necessary help within their own organizations. The farmers not in this cultivation allege that the District Secretariat staff assist them in breaking rules to provide them with water. It is possible that violence may be directed at these people before long.

Don’t say I did not forewarn of the impending catastrophe. When you are thirsty and see no way of buying water, when you have no way of paying for medicines or for food as these people have used all their savings already, you do not understand the seriousness of the situation.

Any politician who goes there without a solution at hand with them, will be lynched so no one dare go there. You cannot promise anything anymore as people will not believe any promise as they know they are mere words.

Added to this the sudden withdrawal of the fertilizer subsidy for other crops has spooked farmers who did not know in advance that this subsidy had been withdrawn. So for their corn, green gram, soya cultivations, they will have to purchase their own or manufacture their own fertilizer at market prices. Today that is a moot point for the Mahaweli H zone farmers as they are facing a bleak future at least until the October rains.

Why do we wait for the problem to get worse before we take steps to try and help? The Minister of Disaster Management, don’t say you have not been informed.  If we assist in helping them with something like emergency tube wells we may at least alleviate the drinking water problem. I was suggesting a bowser of water but then when one village is helped, the other village will say they did not get water and get angry with the giver. This will be considered just a band aid to prevent the deep cut that needs stitches.

Tobacco cultivators be warned, along with Pradeshiya Sabha members of the area, your plantations face the first of the blows. More importantly anyone who is willing to help DO NOT go to the Government departments who will take all you have to give and more without any of the needy people getting anything. Go direct, give each a bottle, tag their fingers so they cannot come for seconds and give as much as you can.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

is the government responsible for helping anything and everything that happens in the economy, even providing adequate rain and preventing droughts???

Let people make free decisions and live with the consequences.

Anonymous said...

Exactly the govt interferes and prevents people making free decisions.

That is why we need free enterprise to make free decisions.

We have an interfering govt. so they must take the blame. After all in April all the tanks were full, but there is no water now.

It is nothing to do with the drought it is bad management. They do not know how to read a weather forecast which clearly said we will be in for a drought.

They should have woken up in April at the time we knew of the prob, and when we had enough rain to make wise storage decisions.

Obviously the writer above has not clue how this govt. has messed things up. I think we would have been better if we had NO govt. to this bunch of crooks and cronies.

the previous comment sounds like one of the cronies at work.

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