Key Highlights and Recommendations
Considerable rainfall distribution was observed during the North-East monsoon period and meteorological observation shows that above-normal rainfall in the northern region. The harvest of paddy and other food crops in “Maha” cropping season 2020/2021 was above-average compared to the past few years, and rice production will be sufficient for 10 months. Major reservoir storage levels are at 68 percent of their capacity at present whilst medium are at above 75 percent, which is very conducive for good “Yala” cropping season.
Current global climate outlooks for Pacific and Indian Oceans are showing neutral conditions of El-Nino/La-Nina condition and Indian Ocean Dipole condition from April to August, which are known to be influencing factors of the monsoon rains over Sri Lanka, indicates that there will be no major difference to average rainfall during this season. Meanwhile, anticipated pre-monsoon disturbances during May could result in some flooding in low lying areas of the South-Western region, while favourable for water storage in Dry & Intermediate zones.
Water availability and supply
At the end of April the countrywide water storage of major and medium tanks storage which is well above the average storage compared to the water storage condition at the start of Yala season in an average year, mainly owing to the water management practices implemented by the Irrigation Department and water yield gained during the last Maha cropping season.
Irrigation Department is planning to continue full extent cultivation for the next “Yala” Season in Major and Medium Irrigation schemes,
It is recommended to promote water-saving technologies and the cultivation of Other Field Crops (OFC) on feasible lands, where the drainage is conducive for such crops. Around 50,000 acres throughout the Island have been selected for OFC cultivations in this season,
Water-saving methodologies and farming practices such as Bethma, Staggered Water Issues, and Dry Ploughing are recommended and will be implemented wherever feasible.
Agriculture activities in the Yala cropping season
Use incipient rains in monsoon season for land preparation, wherever possible, rather than waiting for tanks are getting filled with the inflow of streams or diversions: Plan for 3½ months of maturity age paddy varieties for this Yala season and establish them in the fields during the period of the second half of April.
Longer irrigation intervals are to be adapted as appropriate by considering the evaporative demand of the atmosphere and intermittent rains that may experience during the growth period of the rice crop;
Cultivation under minor irrigation tanks is to be well planned after careful examination of available storage of respective tanks, in consultation with the officials of the Department of Agrarian Development;
If the water storage of minor tanks is not highly satisfactory, opt for 3 months of maturity paddy varieties. Rainfed paddy cultivation in Wet and Intermediate zones may adapt customary practices of respective areas as the usual rhythm of SouthWest monsoon rains are likely to be experienced.
Health and Food Security
The pre-period of the South-West monsoon might be potential for flooding in Western and Southern areas might be challenging for effective response operation, as the country already experiencing third wave of COVID outbreak from mid -April onwards and current trend indicates it will continue in next three months and beyond;
In this context, the Ministry of Health advises to adhere to health guidelines, while media agencies are requested to support in promoting the guidelines in coordination with the Government Information Center;
Promote intake of different nutritious food for communities in the plantation sector, poor and marginalized families around the country including women and people with disabilities as well as feeding practices for infants and children.
Planning and budgeting recommendations
Provide adequate budget allocations for seeds (paddy and other crops) and provisions for agriculture inputs such as fertilizer and agriculture equipment etc.;
Provide soft loans and fund facilities for vulnerable smallholder farmers and other micro to medium scale entrepreneurs to enable stable economic options;
Ensure adequate budgetary provisions for suitable Crop Insurance Schemes as a risk transfer mechanism in agriculture in a changing climate trends;
Create income-generating opportunities for labourers and daily wage earners in tourism, hotels and other industries heavily impacted by the COVID outbreak.