Frontier farmers and power of seeds to rescue agriculture – The Island

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An open letter to Director General of Agrarian Services

I make reference to this subject, which is directly affecting the food security and safety, as well as the national security of our country in the future.

Rice, being our citizens’ staple food over many centuries, plays an important role in our country’s food production chain, which is totally dependent on the limited paddy lands laboriously created by our ancestors. Apart from those paddy lands built by our earlier farmers, no new land is being turned into a paddy land by anyone at present. Therefore, the paddy fields are not increasing, while the population is constantly increasing, making it essential to fully use the paddy lands currently at hand.

In such a backdrop, it is imperative to maximise the use of paddy lands for the sole purpose of producing high quality rice, and develop, cultivate and protect them for the benefit and protection of our future generations. That will also prevent looming famines or food crises in the years to come.

Amidst such circumstances, crooks all over the country target and purchase precious paddy lands as a cheap land acquisition option, and then tactfully convert such paddy lands into lands of other permanent economic crops, by landfilling and first cultivating temporary or biennial crops, such as sweet potatoes or “innala”. After a season or two, they then start cultivating permanent economic crops like cinnamon, by completely and permanently destroying paddy lands in a way that those lands can never be used for cultivating rice again. This is a hidden systematic process to destroy our paddy lands, so is rice production as a result of it. Compared to buying other lands, paddy lands are much easier and cheaper to buy; and then these crooks keep them for a few years, purposely without cultivating them, in order to get degraded fertile paddy fields from grade A and B to grade C. Then, with the support and recommendations of their political henchmen in local Agrarian Societies, they make requests for approval to the Agrarian Services Department through their local officials, to allow them to cultivate temporary crops other than rice. This is tactfully done in the pretext of making maximum use of the land, but after a season or two, they gradually start growing other cash crops such as cinnamon and coconut, changing the appearance and condition of a muddy land into a solid land, in a way it is not recognisable by anyone thereafter or cannot be turned into a paddy field again. Then, they get the assistance of local Agrarian Services Centre officials to remove the particular land from the Paddy Lands Register, maintained by the local Agrarian Services Centre. However, this can easily be detected if a deed of a land is checked carefully, as it mentions whether the land is a solid land or a muddy land.

Nowadays, in front of our residence located at Pollewwa, Batapola in the 75 C Batapola North G.N. division, one can easily find such a centuries-old, valuable paddy land being tactfully ditched and landfilled, under the pretext of growing sweet potatoes. After a season or two, this crook namely Dayananda (commonly known as Naathaya of near Pollewwa Tyre Works junction, Pollewwa, Batapola, will start permanently growing cinnamon and coconut in this land, completely changing the current face of the muddy land into a dried solid land. Thereafter, no one will be able to use this paddy land for paddy cultivation. This criminal had done the same thing before, several times, and why the authorities can’t identify his cunning tactics is very much doubtful.

Many years ago, he did the same thing to the priceless paddy field in front of the house of Katta Bandu in the same manner, first growing a cultivation of “innala”; then after one year, not only turning the entire land into a cinnamon mixed cultivation, but also a part of the main road from the Atabhagaha Junction to  the Pollewwa Junction. He, then, did the same thing to the paddy field behind the Grama Niladhari office, and in front of the house of Thekola Mudalali, by filling and cultivating coconut in the side of the Karrijja Bubula Road. Due to the fight given by this Mudalali until his death, he could not completely fill the muddy land as he did earlier. Now, he has moved to a new location again after a few years of silence. It is surprising why the local Agrarian Services officials are purposely allowing these crooks not to cultivate their paddy lands by making them barren.

These lands can be given to innocent farmers who can cultivate them successfully. It is revealed that several requests made by local farmers to get these paddy lands were turned down by the officials, without any valid reason. This childless, barren family keeps another two valuable paddy lands near Ilukpollewwa (near the ex-Batapola coroner’s residence) without cultivating them for over 10 years. Several attempts were made by them to build a road in the middle of one of the two paddy fields, and to cultivate cinnamon by making a bed on the part of the paddy field. Due to the pressure from the residents near them, they had stopped working further on them. It is said that the public funds of the Ambalangoda Pradeshiya Sabha was wrongfully used for building this private road with the support of VC and a PS member of the same Pradeshiya Sabha. . It is known that the TO of the Pradeshiya Sabha had also been misled by pretending this road to be an extension to the Karijja Bubula Pradeshiya Sabha Road connected to the Pollewwa – Pathraketiya by-road. This family maintains a strong connection with the assistant commissioner of Agrarian Services, at the Galle Office, who recommends and approves any kind of request made by them, citing justifiable reasons. People used to say that even the Commissioner General cannot prevent these malpractices from taking place, until this commissioner serves in the Galle district office.

Sir, by granting permission and allowing them these paddy lands to be used for cultivation, other than paddy cultivation, will ultimately create a lack of paddy lands in the country for adequate rice production in the future. It is very pathetic that we allow this to happen in an area situated in the wet zone, where we can cultivate paddy in two seasons successfully. It is, indeed, our utmost responsibility to preserve and protect what our ancestors made possible by hard work and left us in the same manner intact for our future generations. Otherwise, they will curse on you and us, for neglecting our priorities for personal reasons and temporary gains.

Hon. Sir, it is very essential that you personally intervene, investigate and take necessary legal actions to prevent these crooks, destroying the future of our children, in disguise of cultivating other crops in paddy lands and then systematically and tactfully turning them to the lands of cash crops. Under any circumstances, please do not allow the provincial or local Agrarian Services officials to grant permission for such good-faced, but long-term harmful activities. Also look into the weak points in the law, which are often amply being misused by the crooks like”Naathaya for their ravenous for wealth and temporary success.

I kindly request you to inform all officials under your purview, not to entertain these criminal elements in their respective areas, under whatever influence made by any affluent person, due to personal connections.

I strongly believe that you will thoroughly investigate as to how this crook has been granted permission once again to completely destroy another paddy land, without looking into his previous criminal record of destroying paddy lands; and those who are allegedly involved in this crime should be dealt with in accordance with the law of the land. Please treat this as an urgent and serious matter of significance that requires your personal intervention, and thorough investigation. Just calling a report from the local officials, who are also the supporters of these scrupulous activities will do nothing, but provide further encouragement to the culprits to follow the same path again and again.

In conclusion, I do admire and appreciate your dedication and commitment in serving our life-blood like farming community by providing strong leadership and correct guidance.

Concerned resident

Batapola



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