25,000 irrigation systems dilapidated despite rhetoric of Sri Lankan rulers regarding boost in agri sector
These irrigation systems include water reservoirs, bunds and canals etc. Most of them have been used by people for centuries.
Most of the dilapidated irrigation systems are under the management of the Provincial Councils. They are vital mainly for the cultivation of rice, the major staple food of Sri Lankans.
The nationalist government of Sri Lanka has launched a programme under the theme 'Let us grow and develop the country' to boost the production of food and to curb the imports. The President and the Ministers were seen in paddy fields for several minutes of photo shoots in the hyped propaganda. However the outcome of this programme is questionable as the import of essential food items escalated sharply while the programme is underway in full throttle.
In November 2008, the Minister of Trade, Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Cooperative Development Bandula Gunawardhana said to the parliament that Sri Lanka imported 90% of its milk powder needs while justifying the high import taxes stating they are for the upliftment of the local milk farmer.
The import of food items like potato, onion, chillie and sugar have increased rapidly under the present government, the Minister said. For instance, in 2005 Sri Lanka imported 89.6 of its sugar consumption. In 2008, the imports rose to 92.7%.
At the moment, Sri Lanka is facing a severe rice shortage and the prices in the markets are unbearable to most of the people in the low income groups.
However, Sri Lanka government boasts of providing fertilizer subsidy to the farmers, the only remarkable service rendered by the government levying high taxes from the people.