Drought conditions affect 20,000 farmers

Aug. 7, 2012 at 12:50 AM

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Drought conditions in Sri Lanka have hit more than 20,000 farmers and destroyed 16,000 acres of rice fields in the Indian Ocean island nation, officials said.

The government has allocated 3.7 billion rupees, or $28 million, to provide relief to those affected, but Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said additional allocations would be needed as drought conditions are engulfing more areas in the affected north-central and northwestern provinces, Colombo Page reported.

Current plans call for providing farmers in the five drought-affected districts chemical fertilizer and seeds free of cost for the next sowing season in addition giving financial help to each farmer family.

Separately, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa instructed authorities to take immediate steps to prevent deforestation of areas sustaining natural water bodies and build reservoirs for agriculture in the hill country, Colombo Page reported. He asked them to take stern action against those destroying resources through timber smuggling or involved in animal poaching.

Sri Lanka recently received a $ 64.9 million loan from the Export-Import Bank of the United States to finance construction of three water supply systems.

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