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Immediate Steps Necessary

The immediate necessity is to grow sufficient food to feed the population depending on the land for a living. Hence, the increase in output in lands already under cultivation must be given priority in agricultural development. A concentrated effort is already under way in this area and the results thus far achieved are encouraging. The government's extension services and incentives to increase food production, though not without defects, have been the guiding force in the increasing adoption of new methods of cultivation and high-yielding varieties of seed paddy, and the increasing use of agro-chemicals by most farmers in the Dry Zone. Sri Lanka's paddy Yields are still very low compared with those of the advanced rice-growing countries. The national average in 1976 was 52 bushels per acre (2,697 kg/ha) {Central Bank 1977). The achievements of some farmers in Sri Lanka show that there is the potential to increase the yield in the country. Many farmers in Rajangane were able to obtain 100 to 150 bushels of paddy per acre (5,187-7,780 kg/ha) during the main cultivation season in 1977/78. There is substantially a sound extension service, an institutional network, and the basic infrastructure necessary for the efforts to increase paddy yields in the existing irrigated paddy lands. There is only a need to improve and expand them to stimulate further increase in production. For instance, it could be highly desirable to open up a series of demonstration plots in villages and colonization schemes so that the villagers pick up the new techniques in the village itself rather than looking for them in the distant Agricultural Research Stations. There is also a great need to have a close relationship between the research community in research stations and the farmers in the villages.

An impressive number of major irrigation schemes have been developed in the Dry Zone in association with the colonization schemes. Development of minor irrigation works (small- and medium-size village tanks) has made notable headway in the 1970s. Though the efforts made to store water are commendable, it is distressing to note that the water management of such storages remains neglected. The magnitude of the waste of water is well captured in the following observation:

Current water use [in the Dry Zonel is very wasteful. Water issues over 16 acre feet [19,700 m3] for Maha have been reported for parts of Uda Walawe and field use of 18 acre feet [22,200 m3] in Yala has been reported in Gal Oya. These compare with ex-sluice requirements in major irrigation, based on research (after allowing 25 per cent for conveyance losses and 15 per cent overflow from fields) of roughly 1 to 3 acre feet [1,230-3,693 m3] in Maha and 5 to 8 acre feet [6,1 569,848 m3] in Yala. When these are compared with common conventions in the field that Maha requires exsluice duties of 3 to 5 acre feet [3,693-6,1 56 m3] and Yala requires 6 to 8 acre feet [7,386-9,848 m3], it appears that water use in Maha is very wasteful compared with Yala. In Maha roughly twice as much water is needed according to the calculations. More sparing applications would reduce losses from flooding and could sharply increase the productivity of stored water." [Chambers 1975: Vl-VII]

Though water is a scarcer resource than land in the Dry Zone its immense waste deprives the cultivators of some paddy lands and causes severe shortages in fields already cultivated. The practice of free provision of irrigation water has to come to an end. Water is no longer a ubiquitous commodity; it is fast becoming a scarce resource even in the more humid regions. Hence, first of all, farmers have to pay adequately for its use, which would sufficiently motivate them to conserve it. The manner in which the water in minor- and medium-size tanks is distributed seems thoroughly unsatisfactory. In the past the irrigation headman had a reasonably sound system of water distribution with indigenous water regulators (karahan) placed at the heads of distributory channels drawing water from the main ditches (Lexh 1956). Often water was released turn by turn to various field units in different zones. The "irrigation headman system" was later replaced by a "cultivation committee system" in an attempt to take the responsibility of water management away from individuals and make it collective. As politics played a major role in the selection of committees the new system soon turned out to be a failure,S3 and the water management in most villages became chaotic, shunning most of the norms and conventions hitherto adopted in distribution of irrigation water. Even with difficulties and unpleasantness, stringent water management has become necessary under minor irrigation works to get full benefit out of the stored-up water.

The menacing problem of fragmentation and dispersion of individual holdings finds no easy solution so long as the system of land inheritance in the Dry Zone (equal distribution of one's land among his children) remains in force. However, research has proved that some temporary adjustments could be effected to hold the impact of fragmentation constant so as to borrow time to effect planned development in rural economy in other frontiers. The best adjustment possible is the provisional consolida tion of holdings (Tennakoon 1972) for a suitable period of time, probably for a period of five to ten years. On an experimental basis land consolidation attempted in the north central region of the Dry Zone has led to an increase in production, preventing waste of agricultural labour, irrigation water, and staggered cultivation. Consolidation of lands leads to efficient cultivation practices in general. With the consolidation of lands a vigorous drive to get the farmers to use more intensive farming methods has to be launched. This would not face resistance from farmers because they are already experiencing yield increases due to the adoption of new methods of cultivation.

When the provisional consolidation is effected and intensive farming methods are encouraged in existing irrigation paddy lands, they will give employment to those who have no lands, and full employment and higher income to those who have too little land. It is important to note that by the end of the provisional consolidation period agreed upon, there should be positive signs of improvement in the rural economy insofar as the subsistence farmer is concerned. This is very important, because in a traditional society people are willing to sacrifice many things only up to a point. Beyond that, they will agree to further sacrifices only if there are convincing returns for what they have already sacrificed.

To develop the rural economy another immediate step necessary is the restriction of chena cultivation. As farmers themselves have argued earlier, an imposition of a total ban on chena cultivation is detrimental to the well-being of those who are landless and those who have too little irrigated land. However, its threat to the natural vegetation is so serious that some restriction is essential. A method has to be evolved whereby only needy peasants are selected (those who have too little or no land) and allowed to clear jungle for chena cultivation in certain restricted zones. Suitable limitations have to be imposed on the extent of clearings.

The authorized chena cultivators should be required to cultivate their chenas at least for a minimum of four to five years During this period, they should be encouraged to develop a commercially viable highland cropping system in these chena sites, making the best possible use of rainfall. Wherever possible the demarcated zones for chena clearing have to be closer to tanks and streams so that eventually lift irrigation can be adopted to work these chenas into a more intensive system of garden farming. If a chena cultivator desires to abandon his plot after the compulsory period of farming he must be required by law to plant permanent trees to certain specifications of the Forest Department authorities before the final abandonment. For what has been taken from the forest something has to be returned in order to keep it productive. Only then do resource use and conservation become meaningful. The types of trees to be grown have to be carefully decided and probably a suitable incentive scheme evolved (as suggested by some farmers earlier) so that the chena cultivator does the afforestation with a degree of self-interest.

As tropical soils become fast impoverished and compacted once a plot of land is cleared and repeatedly cultivated, suitable systems of manuring and mulching have to be introduced. Unlike in a newly burnt chena plot, where soil is loose, land preparation on hard dry highland soils is not easy with hand tools. Therefore, tractor ploughing will become necessary. It seems that tractor ploughing is more relevant to highland cultivation (not chenas) than to wet paddy cultivation. This is because, in the highland plots, land preparation and sowing have to be done as fast as possible with the onset of early seasonal rains so that the planted crops get their full benefit. The limited extent of paddy holdings, when impounded with water, could be worked with the use of draught animals and hand tools even if the tractors are unavailable, but hand tilling of the dry highlands would essentially be limited. In fact there seem to be certain advantages in working some small paddy holdings using animals and hand tools, for in the process of preparing land for sowing, only the surface thin layer of soil is disturbed; and this is adequate, since most roots of paddy plant are concentrated within the first few inches of surface soil. Tractor ploughing, being relatively deep, has caused the surfacing of alkalinity or saltiness in the lower soil horizons in paddy fields.

The alternative to chena cultivation seems to be the development of permanent garden farming, although some farmers have suggested that those crops now grown in chenas be cultivated in marginal paddy lands in the Field Blocks. Because of the very high demand for irrigation water to practice inundated paddy cultivation in those marginal paddy lands in the reddish brown earth, it would be feasible to grow highland crops with lower water requirements. Efforts may be made on a limited scale and if the per-unit-area production of highland crops proves more
profitable than that of paddy grown in such marginal lands, the change may be effected. Otherwise it would be better to retain the marginal lands as areas of highland paddy cultivation with only a stringent use of the available tank water. As regards what should be grown in the marginal paddy lands in Field Blocks, a general conclusion cannot be drawn here due to several reasons. First, the situations in respect of the water storage available, the distance of the marginal land from the tank, the gravity irrigation problems in different soil zones, and the man-land ratio in paddy cultivation vary very widely from village to village.

Therefore, how these marginal lands will be used should be decided only after considering the individual situations at village level. Economic diversification would relieve pressure on land. There are other sources of income Ifood and cash) that remain virtually untapped and need immediate action for them to evolve as profitable ventures in the process of economic diversification. The Dry Zone is studded with thousands of tanks, but no determined effort has been made to develop a systematic fish culture. Breeding and harvesting fish would prove highly beneficial. The recent introduction of a Japanese fresh-water fish variety (Tilapia) and its prolific multiplication shows the vast opportunities in this field. Its development would provide much needed proteins for supplementing the food requirements.

The short-term steps, hitherto mentioned, would provide food and increase the income of the peasants; this would provisionally relieve the pressure to clear forests for chenas. It would enable the peasants to suppress the emergence of desert-like conditions. But to have a long-lasting check on the deterioration of the Dry Zone environment, some long term development efforts are absolutely necessary.

Long-Term Stops Necassary

It is futile to think any longer that the development of the Dry Zone is the key to solving many of the nation's economic and social ills arising from increasing population, rising unemployment, and perpetual food deficit. Given that irrigable land is limited because the available water is limited, the carrying capacity of the Dry Zone is much lower than that of the Wet Zone. The already existing land lessness and fragmentation and dispersion of land, as well as the pressure on chena lands, are crude indicators of the low level of carrying capacity, and this can only be increased with a positive change in the existing level of low technology available to people. To put it bluntly, the Dry Zone has enough people, and "aided" migration from the Wet Zone must soon come to an end. In the alienation of lands that are earmarked for development (for irrigated paddy), priority has to be given to the needy people within the Dry Zone. It has already been shown that there are landless peasants both in villages and colonization schemes in the Dry Zone.

Not all problems in the congested Wet Zone can be solved through the process of resettling the Wet Zone's excess population in the Dry Zone. Most of the problems of the Wet Zone must be tackled through the economic advancement of the nation as a whole. The average economic growth rate during the period 1972-76 was 3.5 per cent. It was as low as 3.0 per cent in 1976 and has just begun to take an upward trend with a growth rate of 4.4 per cent in 1977 (Central Bank 1978). But population has risen to 14 million and the growth rate 1.7 per cent. It is this ailing economy that needs a boost so that the country's development problems including those of the Wet Zone can be successfully tackled.

The world-wide recession following the fuel crisis brought some disasters to Sri Lanka's economy as a whole. However, not all failures could be attributed to this external influence. In the past, there seems to have been too much state intervention in areas of production. Too much reliance on nationalization, collectivization, and cooperative systems of management has led to no appreciable progress along the path of development. Government intervention is necessary in development; but it has to be a cautious intervention fostering private enterprise and, wherever possible, foreign investments. It is a diversified economy with progressively increasing growth rates that will gradually raise the living standards of the people, raise the level of existing technology to aid further development, enable agriculture to be more productive, develop agro-based industries fostering agricultural improve meets, divert the under-employed from the subsistence agricultural sector to the non-agricultural sectors, and provide work for the unemployed. When such a diversified economic order is set in motion, it gathers its own momentum, enabling the people to secure higher income from both agricultural and non-agricultural sectors. This reduces the pressure on marginal lands.

While long-term economic development has to be relentlessly pursued at the national level, careful village development plans have to be launched at local levels, taking into consideration the physical resources available and the most pressing needs of the villagers This has to be a collective effort of the people and officialdom as far as possible. Some official control will be necessary but it would be injurious to dictate everything from the higher echelons of administration all the time. It is in this village planning that the spatial organization of rural settlements discussed above needs careful consideration. In this village planning with the villagers for the villages, attempts have to be directed to view the village as a single cohesive entity. Development emphasis has to be made not only on paddy fields and the use of tank water but also on every possible physical component-the Forest Zone, the Parkland, and every other open space. This should avoid sectoral imbalances in the emphasis on development.

It is in such a coordinated development effort that the salvation for the forest can be found. Through patience and continuous efforts the deteriorating forest can be improved by growing plant species which are more useful in terms of the provision of timber and supplementary tree crops for food. The deteriorating forest can undoubtedly be transformed into a beneficial and integral part of the rural landscape. Tropical lands abound with trees which provide nuts and fruits that could supplement food. There is, therefore, the potential to plant such trees in favourable locations-along roadways, bunds, hedges, water courses, and even in many locations in the Parklands. It is also necessary to attempt systematic cultivation of certain drought-resistant, superior varieties of paddy and certain wild plants on which the village cattle feed (mostly during the dry season), after having them carefully screened. These numerous measures are not only economically beneficial but also help to maintain an improved Dry Zone ecosystem. Careful maintenance of a tree culture will help minimize the damage from wind, and systematically cultivated grasses will reduce erosion, thus minimizing the transportation of eroded sediment by running water during the rainy season as well as the dust in the surface air during the windy dry season.

As the final strategy to suppress the emerging signs of desertification in the Dry Zone, attempts should be made to declare sandy and alkaline soil stretches as "reservations" and prohibit any willful damage to plants standing on them. Wherever necessary and possible, suitable trees have to be planted so that the density of plants increases and forms a protective soil cover. Similarly, the emergence of alkalinity, mostly in the marginal paddy fields in Field Blocks, has to be mitigated with remedial measures after undertaking necessary soil tests in such localities. It is very important to be vigilant of the emergence of desert-like conditions and to take remedial steps early. The sooner the better; a stitch in time saves nine.


1, A case in point is the definition "that desertification is conceived as an accentuation of desert-like conditions at a given point of time," advanced by Malhotra (1976). This definition has two important new elements. First, it does not purposely attempt to limit desertification studies strictly to the desert margins. Second, it has attempted to bring in the temporal dimension to the desertification studies more specifically than in many previous definitions. Furthermore, the term "desert-like conditions" in Malhotra's definition envisages, among other things, the harsh conditions associated with the landscape, wind velocity and direction, amount and patterns of rainfall, water availability, flora and fauna, intensity of cropping and crop yields, and frequently of crop losses, which are all in some way or other associated with the desertification process.

2. Though rainfall variability is a common phenomenon in both the Arid Zone and the Dry Zone proper, it is at its highest in the transitional region common to these two main zones, Therefore,
the occupational adjustment hazards (mostly agricultural adjustment hazards) are more in this transitional region than in the other parts of the Arid Zone and the Dry Zone proper. As this transitional region has often been the zone of crisis in terms of drought, crop failures, clearing of forest for chena (shifting! cultivation in quick succession, and, above all, general poverty, study sites for the purpose of this investigation have been selected from this crisis zone. Furthermore, increasing aridity from the Arid Zone towards the Dry Zone proper could be better detected in sporadic locations in this transitional region than elsewhere. As can be very roughly seen in Fig,

2.1, the study sites are on either side of the 1,250 mm average annual isohyet passing through this crisis zone. Care was taken to select the study sites within a single administrative district, namely, the Anuradhapura District, because published and unpublished data in government offices are available on a district basis.

3 The validity of using the 1,900 mm average annual isohyet as the boundary between the Dry Zone and the Wet Zone of Sri Lanka has been questioned from time to time /Dassanayake 1949;Thambyahpillay 1960;Alles 1971;de Mel 1971) The alternatives suggested are the 500 mm (20 inches) average annual isohyet of the southwest monsoon period from May to September (Cooray 1949), and the use of an "appropriate isoline" along which the precipitation and the potential evapotranspiration are equal (outside the October-December period of heavy rains?). The latter has been suggested by the Irrigation Department [Government of Ceylon 1969). Adoption of any one of these alternatives would certainly enable us to establish a more precise separation of the Dry Zone from the Wet Zone.

4. This process has affected the Gal Oya reservoir below the eastern foothills of the Central Highlands because of the haphazard jungle clearing for chena cultivation in its catchment area. The Gal Oya Valley Project has been modelled on the Tennessee Valley Project in the USA.

5 In this study the Anuradhapura District is considered the core of the north central region; see Fig. 2.1.

6. Kellogg (1949) first used the term latosol to identify the highly weathered, deep, strongly coloured soils of Equatorial Africa. It has been later used by Dudai 11960) and Moorman (1961) to identify similar soils in Southeast Asia. These soils have essentially developed from basic and ultra-basic rocks, mainly basalt. The red-yellow latosols in Sri Lanka may differ somewhat from those latosols which have been distributed in other Asian countries and also from the "krasnozems" described by Stephens 11943) in Australia. The extremely poor water-retention properties of these soils in Sri Lanka restricts settled agriculture under conventional flood irrigation (Moorman and Panabokke 1961).

7. Owing to the repeated clearing of forest on the highlands for chena cultivation through generations, the original vegetation has been completely destroyed. In most parts the repeated clearing of forest had been too frequent, and as such vegetation is thoroughly deteriorated it could be well described as short "brushwood" vegetation.

8. The walls of the temporary wells dug in the tank beds to secure domestic water requirements during the periods of drought show that the allovial deposits are about 2 metres thick in the tank beds. This is due to continuous sedimentation over a long period of time.

9. See footnote 2 in which the highest variability of rainfall along this boundary line of 1,250 mm that separates the Dry Zone Proper from the Arid Zone has been fully discussed.

10. In the Anuradhapura District the average wind velocities of the months of June and July are 17.8 and 16 km/in respectively. During all the other months though the average wind velocities are moderate they are dry and at the same time dry the surface of the land (Weerasinghe 1973),

11. Sometimes stinking because of dead fish and decaying carcasses of animals that hew died in the mud in their desperate attempts to quench their thirst in the muddy pools.

12. A relatively large acquifer of Miocene limestone deposits about 45 to 55 metres in thickness underlies an area of about 1,700 km2 in the northwestern littoral belt roughly from the north of Puttalam to the north of Mannar at depths of 15 to 20 metres. However, in this area, because the climate is very dry and the river yields very low, the surface water available to replenish the underground acquifers is limited, which is a constraint on the liberal exploitation of groundwater. In the rest of the Dry Zone there are a few locations such as in Kebitigollewa and Kanniya where the limestone veins trapped in between the crystalline rock bases have limited quantities of groundwater.

13. During the time of field work in Etaweeragollewa, interviewers often went on to say that the competition for water was such that as early as 5:00 A.M. men and women are already at the well sites in the tank bed with empty vessels scrambling for water.

14. A number of reasons have been cited by historians for the decay and final abandonment of the Dry Zone. Among these are the constant invasions from South India, internal strife between the rulers, endemic malaria, and the deterioration of the productivity of land.

15. The early neglect of the development of the Dry Zone by the British was due to their preoccupation with the consolidation of their military power in the East, the setting up of the administrative machinery of their choice in the island, concentration on the development of plantation agriculture and the commerce associated with it in the Wet Zone, unfamiliarity with the technique of paddy cultivation (Roberts 1972), and poor communication. The inhospitable climate of the Dry Zone was also a factor.

16. With the aim of securing ample land for plantation agriculture in the Wet Zone, particularly in the Central Highlands, in the Crown Land {Encroachment) Ordinance, No. 12 of 1840, the British administration in the island declared as Crown Land all lands which had not been under cultivation continuously for 30 years. Though this was primarily aimed at the possession of lands in the Wet Zone for plantation agriculture no exception was made in respect to lands in the Dry Zone.

17. Peasant colonization means "government sponsored peasent ssettiement in an area away from settlers' homes, as distinct from spontaneous settlement, either near to or away from the settlers' homes" (Farmer 1957, 113). As early as 1 1843, some British officials stressed the need to resettle the people in the Dry Zone (Bernet 1843). However, no positive action was taken until 1890. In 1890 about 30 families selected from the Jaffna Peninsula were settled below the Kalawewa Reservoir, in the Anuradhapura District. However, as these Tamil peasants could not adapt to their new environment where malaria was rampant at the time, it soon turned out to be a failure. Peasant colonization did not meet with much success till about the 1 1930s.

18. Hereafter these settlements will be referred to as villages.

19. Out of a total of 2,193 settlements in the Anuradhapura District a sample of 30 villages was randomly selected to test an a priori model consisting of five land use zones (Fig. 2.6). Using information collected from the Final Village Plans of the selected villages, the Settlemont Reports of those villages compiled between 1920 and 1960, and aerial photographs of those villeges taken in 1972, the model was tested and it was found that the agreement between the reality and the hypothetical model was as high as 87 per cent (Tennakoon 1974 and 1974a).

20. Because of their relatively recent origin they have been less subdivided when compared to the holdings in Zone 2 (Old Fields) which have undergone subdivision of land several times. In the minds of the villagers an extent of 5 acres (2 ha) of paddy is a substantial holding. "Large" therefore denotes a holding over 5 acres in extent.

21. Hereafter Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 will be referred to as Tank, Old Field, Field Blocks, Parkland, and Forest, respectively,

22. The Land Commission of 1927 declared that "Crown land is held in trust (by the state) for the whole community, inhabiting this island, that community which exists at present as well as generations yet unborn" ( Government of Ceylon 1929, 24).

23. One of the large river diversion schemes underway is the Mahaweli Ganga diversion scheme begun in 1970. The Mahaweli River, which is the largest in Sri Lanka, has a perennial supply of water from some of the rainiest areas in the Central Highlands. It is 208 miles 1335 km) long and empties into the ocean near Trincomalee on the eastern coast, after traversing a vast expanse of parched land in the Dry Zone. The river has now been dammed, its water diverted into the north central Dry Zone. Of the three stages of development planned, Stage I was completed in 1976. The last stage of the scheme is expected to be completed in or about the year 2000. When the entire project is completed lover a period of about 30 years) it is expected that a large number of tanks in the Dry Zone will be augmented with the waters of the Mahaweli River. The development plan envisages, among other things, the provision of irrigation water for 654,000 acres (2,650 km2) of new land and 246,000 acres (1,000 km ) of land already under cultivation. The cost estimated in 1968 envisaged a total expenditure of Rs. 6,703 million for the completion of the entire project (UNDP/FAO and Government of Ceylon 1969). However, due to the inflationary effects of the current worldwide recession, the total actual cost of the project will no doubt far exceed the estimated cost. Even after the entire project is completed the thirst of the Dry Zone will only be partially quenched.

24.Sri Lanka's mid-year population of 1977 was estimated at 14 million, showing a growth of 1.7 per cent in 1977 (Central Bank 1978).

25. In most villages, even if some of the holdings could be further subdvided, the co owners prefer to rotate the right of cultivation of such jointly held pieces of land because if they are further divided some would get better portions while others would get "not-sogood" portions-in terms of water supply and soil conditions.

26. The uncertainty of the paddy crop even with irrigation and the inadequate income from limited paddy holdings have compelled the peasant farmers in north central Sri Lanka to practice chena cultivation in nearby forests while leading a sedentary form of agricultural life in the tank settlements. Fear of food shortages always motivated them to cling to chena cultivation as an insurance against the possible shortages and losses in irrigated paddy crops. Though the chena sites are changed after one or two cultivations, dwellings are not shifted in accordance with the shifting of the chena sites. This, as well as the "insurance" aspect of chena cultivation, distinctly differentiates chena cultivation from the shifting cultivation practices found elsewhere in the world.

27. The Land Department Ordinances such as the Crown Land {Encroachment) Ordinanco, No. 12 of 1840, and the Waste Land Ordinance of 1 1897 gave the Crown the right to acquire without compensation lands which were not legally held by peasants (Ellman 1976).

28, Land kachcheri is a gathering of farmers presided over by the Government Agent or his representative at a time and place fixed in advance. The Government Agent acts as an agent of the Land Commission. The representatives of the Irrigation Department may or may not be present at the gathering. The Divisional Revenue Officer, who is the subordinate of the Government Agent, is required to be present. The main functions of the land kachcheri are the selection of needy and suitable applicants to grant whatever land available and to regularize the encroached lands if it is feasible. However, most of the encroachments are eventually regularized.

29. Though this is deemed to be a fine it is nothing more than a nominal fee that the applicants are too glad to pay to obtain a title to the lands that they encroached.

30. During the time of field work it was found that in the village of Kapiriggama, which is 3 km away from Ehetuwagama (one of the study sites in the research project), the paddy crop of the main cultivation season of 1977/78 was facing a serious water shortage and many cultivated holdings were on the verge of abandonment. The season's rain had been above average and in most parts of the Dry Zone, including Kapiriggma's neighbouring villages, a bumper harvest was expected in that season. The situation at Kapiriggama arose particularly because there were far too many outward expansions of the outer peripheries of Field Blocks to porous soil regions, to which the village tank could provide irrigation water effectively, and partially because of the lack of cooperation in water management among farmers.

31. Kumaraswamv (1973) observed very closely the surface evaporation of water from Budeni tank near Poondi in the Madras State, South India, where the conditions are very similar to the north central Dry Zone of Sri Lanka (particularly to the transitional zone between the Arid Zone and the Dry Zone proper in the northwest). The Budeni tank is about 11.2 ha at its full storage. The maximum depth is about 3.7 metres and it is very roughly the size of the Ralapanewa tank. After measuring evaporation losses at constant intervals over a period of one year and making sufficient allowances for the increase in water level due to rain and existing inflows from the tanks in the catchment area, Kumaraswarmy concluded that medium-size tanks lose 1.9 to 2.2 metres depth in a year through surface evaporation.

32, Many of the elderly informants in their reminiscences of the past chena practices disclosed that "immature forests" have been avoided as far as possible in chena clearing. When asked what was then considered as the matured age of the forest, almost all the informants over 60 years of age considered durations ranging between 10 and 15 years. There were 20 such informants in the three villages,

33. For instance, after the restriction of import of chillies in 1968 the price of a pound of locally grown chillies first increased from about Rs 1.00 to Rs 2.00 and then to Rs 5.00 in 1972. In December 1972, when the import of chillies was completely banned, the price of a pound of chillies rose to Rs 40.00 (88 Rs/kg), which was brought down to Rs 8.50 (18.75 its/kg) by state intervention in 1973,

34. Legally the (and alienated to a colonist cannot be subdivided among his children and he can name a single heir to the land to work it after his death or when he is incapacitated due to old age or illness. In actual practice, however, land parcellization has occurred in colonization schemes. Grown-up children of colonists cultivate individual parcels separately.

35. Until about 1952 the guaranteed price of a bushel of unhusked rice 121 kg) was Rs 9.00. In September 1952, it was increased to Rs 12.00 and the area under paddy cultivation began to expand. In 1967 the price was once again raised to Rs 14,00, In 1973 it was increased to Rs 18.00, in October 1973 to Rs 25.00. In 1974 the price was further increased to Rs 33.00. The current price of a bushel of paddy is Rs 40.00.

36. The main season of chena cultivation, September to March, is longer than the main season of irrigated paddy cultivation from October to February. In the main season of chena cultivation farmers usually complete chena sowing and move on to the paddy cultivation. Often sowing of paddy fields is delayed in the main cultivation season, due to the farmers' preoccupation with chena sowing (Tennakoon 1972).

37. At a discussion held in the Plan Implementation Department in Colombo in December, 1973, several participants made this observation.

38. This conclusion is based on three rounds of investigation of chenas, cultivated by villagers and others (colonists and the newly arrived) in the Dry Zone. In 1973 several chenas in 5 villages were visited to make observations and discuss chena practices with the cultivators at chena sites (Tennakoon 1974). In 1974 nearly 60 chenas (45 in 15 villages and 15 in 5 colonization schemes) were visited, which furthered the knowledge gained in 1973 "Central Bank 1975a). In addition to these investigations 10 chenas in the study sites selected for this research (6 chenas in 3 villages and 4 chenas in 2 colonization schemes) were closely examined in 1978.

39. At Kapiriggama a patch of alkaline soil in its Parkland Zone has shown distinct signs of expansion. In the 1950s it covered an area of 3 acres 11.2 ha) approximately (which the author personally knows of) and has shifted its frontier to the nearby cleared chena lands on one side and to the paddy fields on the other side. Even with heavy doses of chemical fertilizer in the 1970s, it has not been possible to free these paddy lands from the expansion of alkalinity. The outward expansion of alkalinity here is spotty and not in the form of a continuous frontier, However, it is to be seen that at present the total affected area is in the region of 15 acres. Similar situations were also observed in Katupatwewa in 1973,

40.Cattle population decreased in the late 1960s and early 1970s mainly due to the increasing demand for meat in urban areas. Hence, in 1975, the government prohibited the sale, transport,and slaughter of water buffalo for meat, However, beef consumption among the villages is increasing and its impact on the cattle population cannot be ignored.

41, In 1973 many farmers in Kapiriggama and Galewewa complained that some of their holdings became impoverished due to the surfacing of alkali soil following tractor ploughing.

42. At the time of field work, there was a move among officials of the Sri Lankan government to review the problem of deforestation, with a view to restrict or impose a total ban on chena cultivation for a certain period of time.

43. In carrying this argument further, some made rather emotional but penetrating statements. Following are some of them: 1) If the government decides to prohibit chena cultivation suddenly, the government may have to take the responsibility of looking after the well-being of those who are desperately in need of chena cultivation for a living. 2) If chena cultivation is prohibited, people will increasingly plead with the government to permit at least a restricted chena cultivation in certain specified areas. If this is not forthcoming at least some will attempt illicit chena cultivation through dire necessity, irrespective of the legal consequences that they have to suffer.

44. In the past it was customary to allow village cattle, often in a single herd, to roam freely grazing in the village lands. The cultivators were expected to protect their cultivated holdings with sufflciently strong fences to keep the cattle out of reach of the crop and by being constantly vigilant, even by staying in crop wetch-huts at night if and when necessary. This once accepted norm is fast changing at the moment. The emphasis now is that cattle owners must keep their cattle wall within certain bounds and should see that cattle do not damage others' crops. In reversing the responsibility of crop protection procedure in this manner, cultivators have developed a tendency to neglect proper fencing and to be less vigilant in crop protection, making the situation more difficult for the cattle owners, who have no sufficient expanse of grazing lands of their own to keep their cattle within certain bounds.

45. The significance of this suggestion is discussed under "Immediate Steps Necessary," below.

46. This suggestion came from a handful of informants whose educational attainments were relatively high. It is very likely that they are repeating the sentiments of government officials who see that there is a need to maintain forest in the Dry Zone.

47, Julius Nyerere, President of the Republic of Tanzania.

48. Planning at "grass roots level" is in progress in Sri Lanka, particularly since the establishment of District Development Councils in the early 1970s. This has enabled the planning machinery to move from the Central Gowrnment premises to the district level. However, it has to be further moved down to the village [ever in practice so that the aspirations and views of the villagers receive more attention in planning for the village.

49. Maha is the main cultivation season from October to February.

50. The Uda Walawe Scheme is a multi-purpose river valley development project in the southeastern Dry Zone of Sri Lan ka.

51. Yala is the minor cultivation season from May to August.

52. The Gal Oya scheme is also a multi-purpose river valley development project in the eastern part of the DrY Zone.

53. In 1978, the "irrigation headman system" was re-introduced, abolishing the cultivation committee system.

54. In 1966, for the first time in Sri Lanka, widely scattered parcels of land owned end cultivated in the Old Fields of Welimuwapotana, Ksdurugaskada, and Maha Kumbukwewa- all in the Anuradhapura Distinct-were consolidated with the written approval of the farmers, and the individuals were allocated a single stretch, each equal in area to the sum total areas of all the land held and! cultivated individually by them in various parts of the Old Fields in the past. This has given very encouraging results. Yield per acre has increased from about 15 to 20 percent. Sowing the entire field stretch has taken less than 30 days under the new system whereas under the old systems often it took 60 to 75 days. Because of the sowing of individually operated holdings in quick succession, staggered cultivation was absent. The majority of the farmers when asked spoke highly in favour of consolidation. In fact some suggested that the system be legalized because they felt that tractor ploughing, fencing, crop watching, and irrigation were much more convenient, economical, and effecting under the new System of land consolidation, Another notable feature is that the marked reduction of time in land preparation from over 60 days to 30 days reduced the use of water by more than half.

55. Probably not more than 2 acres (1.2 ha) per family of five.

58. This is an arbitrarily determined limit. Further research is essential to determine the suitable time limit.


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