Cabinet this week approved a proposal to pay financial assistance and compensation to farmers affected by the severe drought conditions for the next four months amounting to Rs. 4 billion.
A proposal to introduce a new farmer insurance scheme to confront such situations in the future was also granted approval.
Accordingly, close to 750,000 farmer families whose harvest has been damaged due to drought or who were not able to cultivate will be given paid an allowance of Rs. 40,000. This will come in instalments of Rs. 10,000 from April to July to each affected farmer family of four. The drought has affected over 485,000 hectares of farmland this season.
The joint proposal made by Disaster Management Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and Agriculture Minister Duminda Dissanayake also included a suggestion to provide relief before the Sinhala and Hindu New Year next week.
The compensation on crop damage will be paid in stages, where paddy farmers whose cultivations though started were damaged due to the drought, would be paid first, followed by payments to paddy farmers who could not cultivate their lands due to the unavailability of water. Other crop farmers will be paid compensation for crop damage in the third stage. The paper also proposes to implement a formal program by the Agricultural and Agrarian Insurance Board for the insurance of all crops covering all farming lands from the 2017 Yala season onwards with a view to minimising risks to paddy and all other crop cultivations. The move is aimed at stabilising the agricultural sector of Sri Lanka and mitigating inconveniences that may be caused to the General Treasury, the ministers noted.