The Agriculture Ministry plans to conduct a survey to identify the extent of land used for paddy cultivation with the assistance of Sri Lanka Air Force, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said. “It is clear that the extent of paddy cultivated lands has reduced due to the filling up of paddy lands or using paddy lands for purposes other than cultivation,” said the minister.
He said the government needs to collect accurate data on the country’s paddy lands to forecast rice production and fertilizer requirement. Minister Amaraweera had instructed officials to prepare a database on paddy cultivated lands by analyzing data on aerial maps collected with the assistance of Sri Lanka Air Force.
According to the data collected several years ago, the total land allocated for paddy is estimated to be about 800,000 hectares at present.A large number of urbanised paddy lands were used for other purposes legally or illegally. Most paddy landowners initially sought a license to allow them to use the land for commercial purposes. However, in most cases, they had divided it into small blocks and sold to build houses.
The Agrarian Services Department had received about 3,000 applications from the Western Province seeking permission to fill paddy lands during the past few months.