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Concerns of villagers and paddy farmers

The current agricultural and water management practices in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka can aggravate several problems for the farmers and other village residents, such as environmental and health impacts due to high fertilizer consumption as well as human-animal conflicts.

Green Revolution and high yielding varieties of crops

Much of Sri Lankan agricultural prosperity is ascribed to new fast growing and high yielding varieties of crops (HYVs) and the technology of the Green Revolution (Herath 1981: 673; Farmer 1986: 180). Both result in higher yields, but require chemical fertilizers, agro-chemicals and a controlled water supply. After the introduction of HYVs, the cultivation of traditional paddy varieties was discouraged by agriculture extension programmes and thus old seeds slowly disappeared from the current fields (Seneviruwan 2010: 54) whereas the new seeds circulated widely and changed the watering pattern substantially due to the higher water demands (Daléus et al. 1989: 26). The HYVs additionally came with a range of other downsides, such as their heavy dependence on non-renewable sources of energy like oil for tractors and electric power or coal for nitrogenous fertilizers. Particularly the local environmental effect of the fertilizers on the soil has raised concern, since fertilizers in Sri Lanka are principally marketed in 25kg bags and farmers have been documented as acquiring and using one entire bag each season regardless of the size of their holding (Farmer 1986: 181; Daléus et al.1988: 409).