Tuesday, February 2, 2010

another week that was in the heartland

I took my 5 month old ridgeback Sinha Bahu to Minneriya on the 26th morning. I stood in line before 7am when the polling opened to cast my vote in Godagama at the local school close to the farm. I had everything packed and ready to leave so I was in Minneriya by noon, about 220km away, and as I drove into my property one of my neighbors stopped me to give the latest news, saying that SF, the common opposition candidate, was not on the electoral list and that he was only eligible to vote in the US!!! Such is the reach of the state news services.

My first problem in Minneriya was to deal with the fact with that the water due me for my paddy fields was being siphoned off by the those farmers ahead of me, leaving me no water, while I ironically passed an overflowing Minneriya tank which has enough stock to give me all the water I want. Such is the reality of farming in these parts.

I spent the next morning, a public holiday, digesting the presidential election results while busy working milling the various types of paddy from my harvested stock which I store on the property (see the related Perceptions blog). Remember that Minneriya gave the President the highest percentage of the vote in the whole Island. As far as my neighbors were concerned they were not surprised as it was still a thank you for winning the war (see the Serendipity blog for comment on one aspect of why the President got such a high percentage). While the day after the election was a public holiday, my neighbors were doing what they do every day. Most days in the lives of farmers here are holidays, only working when they feel it is absolutely necessary.

Sinha Bahu had his first dip in water at the river in front of my cabin. Within minutes he had learned to swim as he could not resist the water. He had the best time of his life so far as he was not on a leash and allowed to roam around the property. I then took him to the adjoining property to review the progress of the paddy, and see if a further spread of state-subsidized fertilizer was necessary [the fertilizer either comes from the United Arab Emirates or the CIS]. I took some great photos of Sinha Bahu on the sand by the river in that property and one moment it was there and the next it was gone. Well that was what happened to my digital camera. I don't know if Sinha Bahu took it and hid it or if it just got misplaced, but I have absolutely no idea what happened. So there goes the photos of a dog in the paddy fields, a puppy really having a fun running between the rice paddies like they were places to play hide and seek.

So it is now a quest for a new camera to update the reader with photos to accompany the story and all future stories.


Magerata said...

Looks like I found a true blog about magerata. I have been reading a lot of your posts and more I read more I want!
Thank you and hope you find your camera!

Sigma said...

Enjoyed reading this - love the dog capers!

Anonymous said...

Rajaratarala, can you comment on the below article which states the US Government is getting involved in helping cucumber farmers? Would you consider growing cucumbers to fall under this scheme? What are your thoughts on the future success and usefulness of this program, which the current USAID director said was very successful as a pilot project????

Sri Lanka Hayleys to increase exports to food chains
Feb 03, 2010 (LBO) –Sri Lanka’s Hayleys conglomerate is building a factory in the former war zone in the east to increase exports of pickled gherkins to food companies such as McDonald’s and Burger King.

Sunfrost, the Hayleys subsidiary that is building the plant, expects to be working with 2,500 farmers by 2012, the US Agency for International Development, which is involved in the project, said in a statement.
“Sri Lanka expects strong economic growth in the coming years, fuelled by peace in the north and east and increased agricultural production,” said Rizvi Zaheed, director of Hayleys.

The island’s 30-year ethnic conflict ended last May, prompting companies to expand to the former war zones in the north and east.

“Raising the incomes of farmers and creating new economic opportunities in the east is important to help conflict-affected communities rebuild and reintegrate into the national economy,” said Rebecca Cohn, USAID Mission Director.

USAID and Hayleys partnered on a small pilot project in 2008 that focused on increased production of cucumbers used for gherkin pickles.

“Because of its success, we have expanded it to 1,000 farmers,” Cohn said.

The project between Hayleys and USAID aims to increase the quantity and improve the quality of cucumbers grown to produce gherkin pickles and seed production for paddy.

Anonymous said...

won't that USAID project actually be detrimental to global food security because it is using otherwise useful paddy lands which can be used to cultivate an essential food staple to cultivate a useless cash crop as cucumbers?

Rajaratarala said...

many of my neighbors have grown gherkins under this buyback scheme with mixed results. The real issue is the high level of pesticide and fertilizer inputs that appear (only local farmer heresay) to leach the soil of nutrients and cause some long term damage to the land, and to adjoining crops of other farmers. I would really like an expert with knowledge of this allegation to come clean with the real facts. The gherkin has to conform to a standard size to fit in the bottle, so there is a lot of labor input also. I am sure there are better crops, but the lure of guaranteed buy back and price is what drives these farmers here just as it does with tobacco.