With drought in Sri Lanka continuing, UN warns coming months could be critical
With drought conditions in Sri Lanka worsening and the cumulative rainfall by mid-July falling some 30 to 50 percent below normal in most areas, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today that the next couple of months will be critical for the main crop season in the Indian Ocean island.
Calling for close monitoring of the situation, the agency said that without a significant improvement in rainfall, the next Maha crop season – from October 2004 to March 2005, accounting for 60 per cent of annual production – will be at risk and some districts may suffer a third consecutive crop failure. Livestock would be affected as well.
Rainfall in Sri Lanka has been extremely low since the beginning of the last Maha season. By late February, water levels in the major reservoirs and minor tanks in Northwestern Province and North-Central Province ranged only from 21 to 34 per cent of capacity.
The failure of rains reduced rice production by between 37 and 77.5 per cent in some areas compared to the previous year. Other rainfed crops, including maize, various pulses and chillies, were also heavily damaged.