The Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture have paid their attention on diseases in paddy cultivation currently spreading in several districts.
Yellowing of paddy plants, yellow spot disease, insect infestation and nematode disease can be seen in paddy cultivations. The Department of Agriculture has sent teams of special officers to each district and appropriate actions are currently being taken to control the spread of such diseases.
Mr. Gunadasa Samarasinghe, the Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture yesterday (10) evening revealed the information on the reasons identified by the Department of Agriculture for this disease condition and the measures so far taken to control the situation to Mr. Mahinda Amaraweera, the Minister of Agriculture, Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation.
The main reason for yellowing of rice plants has been recognized as the nutrient deficiency and in addition to that increase of salinity in certain paddy fields has also affected yellowing of plants. Added to that yellow spot disease, insect infestation and nematode disease mentioned above have also made an impact on this condition.
Over the past three cultivation seasons, chemical fertilizers such as TSP (Mud fertilizer), Urea and MOP were not applied to the field. Therefore, the amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium which should be available in the soil is presently at a very low level and lack of such required nutrients have caused yellowing of paddy plants.
Although Urea and MOP were provided during this Maha season some farmers have not yet applied MOP to their paddy fields. The total amount of MOP sold by Commercial Fertilizer Company and Ceylon Fertilizer Company is only 1800 metric tons. This has also impacted on the growth of paddy plants.
Moreover, the Department of Agriculture recommended applying 70 percent of chemical fertilizers and 30 percent of organic fertilizers for paddy cultivation during this Maha season. However, certain farmers have neglected this recommendation. The Department of Agriculture emphasized that the above matter also have resulted in shortage of proper nutrients for paddy.
The Secretary informed the Minister that The Department of Agriculture is taking all safety actions to protect paddy cultivation and the farmers in affected areas have been informed of the recommended insecticides to control yellow spot disease, insect infestation and nematode disease.
The Minister stated that plans are underway to provide all three fertilizer types to paddy farmers during next Yala season and action will be taken to provide the full amount of TSP (mud fertilizer) free of charge to all farmers.
The Department of Agriculture thoroughly rejects the statements made by some farmers that yellowing of paddy plants was due to low standard of Urea fertilizer. All urea fertilizers imported by the government and private sector were tested in laboratories and approval was granted by the National Fertilizer Secretariat and hence, there is no issue in the standard of urea fertilizer currently being used in the country, the Secretary added.