Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Eventful few days in grappling with the new reality of drought amidst plenty
MY SECRET KUMBUK THUDUWA IN RAJA ELA WHERE I RETREAT TO TAKE IN THE UNEXPECTED
It is interesting to note that while there was rain and floods in the Western Province in Sri Lanka, and I was called by friends overseas wondering if my Pokuna was flooded, that we have not had a drop of rain in ages in Minneriya, except for one day when it rained island wide. So when people are drying out from wet conditions, I was having a battle to get a few drops of water into my fields, by trying all means to damn the water flows and send some water my way.
It is vital that the fields get enough water to allow the plants to grow and prevent the weeds from getting hold of the dry conditions to flourish. We have the semi annual discussion on what types of herbicide based on the most likely weeds that can strangle the rice plants. No one questions the part played by the big multinational chemical companies, whose agents the local companies sell a whole host of products, which cost the farmer more than the cost of his annual fertilizer, just to prevent weeds from making a start on the fields. Often even this attempt is forlorn as inevitably the weed that the spray does not kill is the one that sprouts to adversely affect the harvest. One would say the non use of this is the answer. I tried it once and to my cost I know that is not an option if I am to survive.
I have had to resort to pumping water using my tractor engine to run the 3inch pump, as despite my paying for water, I do not get my allocated share, as my supposedly neighborly neighbors do their utmost to prevent me from getting any.
While it is the rainy season in the West, it is the windy season in the North East with a constant blowing. This season continues till the October rains, so it is a breeze to sleep in my veranda without electricity / fans. The problem however is that it dries things fast, where crops need more moisture, and the wind blows away the newly formed mango, where there appear to be more on the ground than on the tree, another added threat over an above the rock squirrel (see photo here near the mango) who also nibbles at the mango and it falls to the ground.
I harvested the oranges from my trees on this visit, and am pleased with their quality, and wished I had ten times this number as I can sell them now I have got the marketing sorted, but alas this will be it till next season. In agriculture however there is never a dull moment, as when you thought you could relax a new crisis erupts, and this time it was the tractor that requires a major repair. My chaps ever the optimists who think I am made of money, suggest I trade it in for the latest model without a moments realization that I am running on my last rupee in the world till I earn something from tomorrow’s sales and so I survive another day.