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Traditional Agricultural Technology in Sri Lanka

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 4921 words Published: 31st May 2017

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1. Modern Agricultural sector plays a very important role in contributing to the economy of the country. Agriculture represents 13% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Rice is the main staple food in Sri Lanka. Paddy sector contributes 16.5 % of the GDP of the agriculture sector. Paddy farmers represent considerable percentage of the labor force of the country. Rice is the oldest crop on earth and rice is the main consumer food in Sri Lanka and the main substitute for rice is the wheat flour. Sri Lanka has two major agricultural seasons namely “Yala” and “Maha”. About 5.75 lakh hectares were being bought under paddy farming in the Maha season from October to February and another 3.5 lakh hectares under the Yala season from April to August. Sri Lanka is country which Agricultural sector plays a main role in the economy. Paddy is produce in two seasons in a year. Every Government has identified the importance of the Paddy industry and has been a political focus so far. Mahaweli Project is the one of the most successive project done in the country to increase the land available for the paddy cultivation. However farmers in rural provinces faced many hardships to obtain adequate harvest and revenue from paddy cultivation and vegetable cultivation due to lack of new technology

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2. There are three major economic activities which contribute to the Gross National Product (GNP) in a country, Namely Agriculture sector, Industrial sector and Service sector. Beginning of 1950s Sri Lankan economy was mainly based on agricultural sector and by mid 1950, service sector contribution remarkably increases and maintained the highest contribution to the GNP at present. With the change of political and security situation of the country, it is essential to develop agriculture sector to achieve the self sustainability of the country. In 2008 recorded the highest sectoral growth of 7.5 percent (%) over the growth of 3.4 % recorded in 2007. Output of domestic agriculture products were increased in 2008 mainly due the record increasing of paddy production during the year seasons.

3. Sri Lanka Rice Sector alone contributes 30’% to the agricultural GDP which accounts for 16.8% of GDP in year 2007.The present Annual value of the rice production is Rs. 49 billion which is at an increasing trend, although the relative contribution of the rice sector to the GDP is diminishing. In 2008 paddy production increased by 24% recorded levels of 2.63 million metric tons of rice. This recorded target was archived through enormous difficulties faced by the farmers in rural provinces. It is essential to implement an effective government policy and an efficient mechanism to the development of the paddy sector in Sri Lankan in each province to increase income of the rural farmers.


4. Paddy is widely grown in the all over Sri Lanka and it is a popular food crop among all communities in country. As the labor and other requirements of paddy are high it provides direct employment to a large number of people besides its contribution to indirect employment in input supplies and providing other services associated with the industry. However, there are several constraints that affect the development of paddy crop in Sri Lanka. Among the most important constraints are, high cost of the new technology, low productivity of paddy land, and high disease prevalence in paddy growing areas due to prevailing conductive environment for disease occurrences


5. The statement of problem can divided in to two major parts:

a. Social

Presently at the country most of farmers are using Traditional agriculture in Sri Lanka and it will effect for there personnel income with out using new technology

b. Economic

Without using new technology for traditional agriculture in Sri Lanka will not enable to increase of production in agriculture. Mal usage of the modern technology caused low productivity in local agriculture


6 This research attempts to identify the relationship between the traditional agriculture and modern agriculture in Sri Lanka and the number of farmers who had abandoned the cultivating of paddy. The research will focus only on the paddy farmers in Sri Lanka and the benefits of using new technology in traditional agriculture.


7. As it effects to the national income of the country it is reasonable to do a research on this topic.

8. As it effect to the loosing of jobs in agricultural field it is a responsibility of the government to look in to this problem.

9. As the agriculture is the oldest traditional occupation in Sri Lanka it is very much needed to research on this field and it’s out come.


General Objectives

10. The general objective, this research is to study increase production by using new technology for traditional agriculture in Sri Lanka

Specific Objectives

11. The following objectives are identified.

a. To study what is the traditional agriculture in Sri Lanka.

b. To study technology used for traditional agriculture and modern agriculture in Sri Lanka.

c. To examine traditional paddy farming cultivation of paddy in Sri Lanka and its increase drastic production.

c. Agro – biodiversity and related traditional systems.

d. Recommendations based on the findings.


12. Use of new technology will enable drastic increase of the production of traditional agriculture in Sri Lanka



1. This study will be based on a survey. The data will be gathered from primary and secondary sources to analyse the situation and the data obtained from Agriculture department and other relevant source

Primary Source

2. A literature survey will be carried out by referring various types of articles, books and World Wide Web to gather information on the field of the paddy cultivation and data gathered by agriculture department and other agriculture research centres


3. Since the main idea of this study in to analyze that there is specific relationship between the diminishing trend of yield and the trend of abundance of paddy cultivation in Sri Lanka, the paper analyses this relationship and its effect to the paddy farming. The first chapter introduces the subject and other details of the research. In the second chapter contains the History Methodology Organization of the paper Data collection method Limitation. In the fifth chapter all gathered data are analysed and the last chapter contains findings, recommendations and conclusion


4. Selected 10 paddy farmers randomly to represent every part of the country who are currently engaged in the paddy cultivation.


5. The source of data collections is details gathered from the Government Officials those who are engaging in the cultivation. Further, past statistics were collected from the Hector Kobbekaduwa agriculture Research Centre in Colombo, and the Public Library in Colombo


6. a. proceeding with a research the following limitations was identified.

b. The time available to carry out this research was only 3 months.

c. Commonly most of the farmers were not in the position of giving accurate figures regarding their individual farm management.



1. Rainfall and its variation Sri Lanka is a tropical country, but climate of the country shows variation across the Island due to differences in rainfall, elevation and soil factors. Further, the central hill masses, which act as an orographic barrier and the Indian Ocean, surrounding the Island also influence the climate of Sri Lanka.

2. The rainfall of Sri Lanka shows seasonal fluctuations and is dependent on mostly monsoon, Four precipitation seasons are clear in Sri Lanka, namely southwest monsoon from mid-May to September call Yala season, northeast monsoon from December to February call Maha season and two inter-monsoon periods, the first and second inter-monsoons last from March to mid May and from October to November respectively. Total annual rainfall of the country varies from 750 to 5000 mm two broad climatic regions, namely the dry and wet zones are recognized based on total annual rainfall and distribution of dry months. The rainfall is one of the significant factors for determining agricultural land use as well as use of various genetic resources. The distribution pattern of rainfall throughout the year is further important than the total annual rainfall. The rainfall distribution in the majority areas of Sri Lanka is markedly seasonal. Seasonal distribution of rainfall and distribution of wet and dry months in different climatic zones influence the type of paddy grown by farmers in different seasons. The bi-model pattern of rainfall distribution is characteristic of the wet zone whereas the dry zone exhibits a uni-model rainfall pattern. The rainy season of the wet zone lasts from May to November (7 months) which is much shorter in the dry zone (3-4 months; October to January). In the dry zone, southwest monsoon allows only a small crop (Yala season) whereas the main season (Maha) is effectively the wet season. Cropping patterns, farming practices and genetic resource utilization are markedly different according to this rainfall distribution patterns along with the other factors.

3. Agro ecological zones Agricultural land use and land management necessities at a given location depend on the climatic conditions together with soil properties and conditions. The areas with similar climatic and soil conditions are identified and demarcated as agro ecological regions. Twenty-four agro ecological regions based on rainfall, elevation and soil types are demarcated in Sri Lanka Agro ecological classification is very useful since it provides basic climatic and edaphic differences of the country for various agricultural productions and farming practice.

4. Agro – biodiversity and related traditional systems Genetic assets or germplasm are biological resources of animal, plant and microbes that contain the hereditary information required for life and are responsible for their useful property and ability to replicate. Agro biodiversity can be defined as selection and variability of animal plant and microbial organisms on earth that are for main food and agriculture. It is a key subset of genetic resources as it is the basis of food security and an essential feature of farming systems around the world. People have managed genetic resources, selecting crops, harvesting medicinal plants etc. Genetic resources remain the basis for the improvement of agricultural crops, for medicines of about 75% of the world population that relies upon traditional, largely plant-based, treatments for its primary healthcare, and for a myriad of other products such as pharmaceuticals, crop protection products and perfumes.

5. Agriculturally used domestic plants have been basically altered from their wild relatives and they have been reshaped to meet human being needs and wants. Paddy genetic resources and agro biodiversity is the product of thousands of years of evolutionary process. There are two types of selection distinguish crop evolution in Sri Lanka namely natural and artificial. These evolutionary processes continue in order to agriculture systems to remain viable. Paddy evolution has been altered by our enhanced ability to produce, locate and access genetic stuff. Both farmers and scientists have relied on the store of genetic diversity present in paddy plants that has been accumulate by hundreds of generations who have observed, selected, multiplied, store, traded and kept variants of paddy plants.

6. Sri Lanka is well thought out as a valuable repository of crop germplasm and agro biodiversity. These varieties show great adaptability to a large range of climatic and soil conditions and pest and infection problems. They also exhibit difference in grain size and quality some with medicinal property and fragrance and others that are used for cultural and formal procedure reasons and also show differences in maturity period. The existence of genetic and species diversity has special significance for the maintenance and improvement of productivity in agricultural crops in Sri Lanka which is characterized by very varied agro-climaticand diverse growing situation. Such variety provides safekeeping for the farmer against disease, pests, drought and other stresses. The genetic variety also allows farmers to develop the full range of highly various microenvironments in the country, conflicting in characteristics such as soil, water, warmth, elevation, slope and fertility.

7. The occurrence of heterogeneous agro ecological situation with seasonal and inter annual difference, socio-cultural and ethnic differences, application of different traditional paddy farming practices including dry and wet land paddy farming, deliberate and inadvertent selection of variety and a choice of systems of beliefs allow to develop various indigenous and traditional paddy cultivation practices and techniques for selection, maintenance and utilization of planting materials.

8. Furthermore these traditional paddy farmers represent centuries of accumulated experience and skills of peasants who often continuous yields under adverse paddy farming environment using locally available resources. The establishment for such paddy farming is comprised of the traditional landraces. Landraces are crop plant populations that have not been bred as variety but have been modified throughout years of natural and artificial variety to the conditions under which they are paddy cultivated. Maintenance of species and genetic diversity in farmer’s fields is essential to sustainable agriculture, especially for resource-poor farmers practicing agriculture under low-input conditions in marginal lands. Aboriginal knowledge has been brought down from generation to generation and forms part of the information base for a culture. The indigenous knowledge can be defined as local information that is unique to a given civilization or society. Each society has a variety of type of awareness systems. Indigenous people have a great knowledge of the ecosystem they live in and ways to guarantee that natural resources are used sustainably. Therefore, indigenous awareness which has been accumulating over hundred years has potential value for sustainable development. It can help other people to learn how to live in the natural world in a sustainable approach as well as to increase agronomic practices for paddy cultivation and utilization of materials.

9. The agricultural landscape of the country consists mainly cultivation of rice (780,000 ha), plantation crops such as tea, rubber, coconut, sugarcane, spices (772,000 ha), vegetables (110,000 ha), other field crops (128,000 ha) and home gardens (98,000 ha). Sri Lanka’s farming systems, particularly rice, other field crops and home gardening have evolved over thousands of years including a rich array of farming systems and cultivated plants such as grains, vegetables, fruits, spices and livestock. New local cultivars have been developed in the agriculture sector formally and informally. In addition, many farmers have selected local landraces. The long history of cultivation, presence of cultural diversity and wide range of eco-edaphic conditions present in the country have resulted in a wide variety of farming practices in Sri Lanka. The following section describes the traditional farming principles and systems reported in Sri Lanka during the survey.


10. Lowland paddy farming. The most widely practiced farming system in Sri Lanka is lowland paddy farming. Lowland can be defined as areas, which receive enough water or which can be irrigated. The lowland also called Wel yaya and is mainly cultivated with rice. In lowlands, rice is the dominant crop both in terms of land use and dietary importance, and it has been the backbone of Sri Lanka’s agriculture over 2500 years. Lowland paddy farming is started with deep ploughing to create a hard pan at the onset of rain or with irrigated water. Harrowing and leveling under submerged conditions follow ploughing. Initiation of agricultural operations is begun at an auspicious time with special ceremony and rituals. Sowing, transplanting, weeding, pest and disease control, water management, manuring (with compost, cow dung and green matter from plant bio mass) and harvesting are other main operations involved in rice farming and each component has special traditional methods and performances.

11. Upland (organic) paddy cultivation. Upland can be defined as land above the water sources, which therefore can be cultivated only under rain fed conditions or by providing lift irrigation. Following ploughing, the land up to two inches using buffalo and traditional plough, seed paddy soaked overnight is sown when rain is expected. The soil is mixed using a fork. This method increases the soil nutrients and water retention / absorption capacity of soil. Sometimes, broadcast field is covered with straw as mulch, which enhances weed control, soil moisture and nutrient retention. When grasses and hedges are grown in the field, they are cut and allowed to dry for incorporating in the field. The field is turned using hoe. Two to three weeks after turning, harrowing is done. Then seed is broadcast during mild rain. Intensity of management practices such as chemical weeding, fertilising, chemical pest and disease control are very low in this system. Water management is entirely dependent on rainfall. Usually, only is Maha season cultivated with paddy.



1. Utilization of modern technology in agriculture and related industries can be categorized in several ways. In this study it is being categorized according to the type of streams of technology used. The main areas of technology which are being using in Sri Lankan Paddy farming can be identified as follows:


2. Mechanization of agronomic practices:

This includes the crop cultural practices from seed sawing to harvesting In paddy farming the first main step is pre planting land preparation and that is been mechanised with tractors including two wheels and four wheels, ploughs, rotervators, harrows etc. In Sri Lanka this step is highly mechanised specially in commercial paddy farming.Seed sawing or crop establishment is the next main step in paddy farming. There are two main methods called direct seeding and transplanting. Sophisticated machines as well as simple machines are available for the both methods. Still Sri Lankan farming community does not use hi-tech methods for this step

The next main step which is been mechanised in paddy farming is harvesting and harvest cleaning. Wide range of machines are using for this process. That includes very sophisticated machines like combine harvesters which harvest, thresh and clean the harvest at once in the paddy field itself

3. Mechanization of post harvesting activities

Technology is been using in this step for storing, weighing, threshing, boiling, cleaning and polishing rice.

4. Biological improvements

New paddy verities

Almost all paddy farmers except very few isolated farmers cultivate improved varieties. The paddy verities been improved for high yield, to minimise lodging, to gain resistively for pest and diseases. This improved the per acre yield in the country over the last three decades

5. New breading technologies

New breeding technologies like genetic engineering, germplasm transplants, mutations, selective breeding are extensively using for develop new verities

6. Biological pest and diseases control methods

Biological pest and disease control methods are promoting extensively among the farming community to minimize the threat for the environment and as effective and sustainable control method. These include usage of plant extracts as repellents and insecticides, introduction of parasitic insects, introduction of insect pathogens, introduction of sterile technologies etc.

7. Chemical improvements

a. Fertilizer This became one of the key inputs of farming and the new improved varieties are highly sensitive for fertilizers. Improvement of fertilizers including chemical components, slow releasing fertilisers like chelates, development of new fertilizer ratios, mixing methods can be considered under this.

b. Insecticides Development of new environmental friendly verities like Aparathyroid, new types, new chemicals, new application methods, bio-degradable chemical developments comes under this.

c. Herbicides Development of new environmental friendly verities, new types like selective weedicides, new chemicals, new application methods, bio-degradable chemical developments comes under this

d. Fungicides Fungal attacks can be effectively controlled by application of fungicides. Development of new environmental friendly verities, new types, new chemicals, new application methods, bio-degradable chemical developments comes under this. There are no effective chemical control methods for bacterial and viral diseases



Yield Statistics.




Chemical Fertilizer

























































































Figure – 3.1 Annual local productions of Usage of new improved varieties during the period of 1985-2009

Figure – 3.2 cultivation extent (Ha) of old and new varieties during the period of 1979-2009

Figure -3.3 growth in average (kg/Ha) paddy yield

Technology statistics: Usage of Tractors etc.

Figure – 3.4 Annual local productions of Usage of Tractors etc during the period of 1979-2008

Agro chemicals usage over the time

Figure – 3.5 Agro chemicals usage over the timeduring the period of 2001-2007




1. During the survey it was found that the main problem faced by farmers in Sri Lanka was the insufficient average of traditional agricultural yield. Further high cost of technology , lack of high quality seeds, cost of cultivation, Non awareness of technology and low market prices were the another identified problems in this area. Further I found that following strengths and weaknesses while observing the traditional and modern agriculture in Sri Lanka.

a. Production possibilities and potentialities are tremendous in the country.

b. Increase of local food production is an urgent need.

c. It is pre requisites for acceleration of agricultural transformation and economic growth in the country.

d. Production directly affects on the increase of farmers’ income.

e. Increase of production will reduce the level of malnutrition.

f. Production & market is sensitive areas that affect the political and economical background of the country.

2. Weakness observed in the paddy farming System.

a. Low production of traditional farming system and modern farming productivity has discouraged the farming system.

b. Land and soil degradation are leading factors for the decision of abundance of paddy farming.

c. High Cost of Production has discouraged the farmers.

e. here is a wide gap between the potential level and farmer yields.

f. Inadequate technology transfer at village level farms.


3. The general tone of the conclusion of this paper identifies that there are many obstacles and problems in paddy cultivation as well as many opportunities and potentialities for improving the “high average of yield” in modern and traditional agriculture in Sri Lanka. Modern Agricultural sector plays a very important role in contributing to the economy of the country. Agriculture represent 13% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Rice is the main staple food in Sri Lanka. Paddy sector contributes 16.5 % of the GDP of the agriculture sector. Paddy farmers represent considerable percentage of the labor force of the country. Rice is the oldest crop on earth and rice is the main consumer food in Sri Lanka and the main substitute for rice is the wheat flour. Every Government has identified the importance of the Paddy industry in Sri Lanka. Mahaweli Project is the one of the most successive project done in the country to increase the land available for the paddy cultivation. However farmers in rural provinces faced many hardships to obtain adequate harvest and revenue from paddy cultivation and other crop cultivation due to lack of new technology.

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4. Presently at the country most of farmers are using Traditional agriculture in Sri Lanka and it will effect for there personnel income with out using new technology. Also without using new technology for traditional agriculture in Sri Lanka will not enable to increase of production in agriculture. Mal usage of the modern technology caused low productivity in local agriculture

5. Thus hypotheses of this research can be proven.


6. Implementing programme which can be help for the purpose of the training about new agriculture technology with an aim of encouraging the rest of potion of farming population for new method of farming.

7. Introduction a mechanize system through agriculture department and relevant authority for remote farmers to reach new technology writhing short period of time with its proper efficiency.

8. changing of attitudes in remote farmers towards use of new technology a they are in strongly believe that modern technology can harm there traditional system of agriculture and socio-culture values which they have being practicing for long time of period.

9. Arranging possible educational programme to educate many of farmers about positive impact on the harvest where they will not be reaching through traditional method of agriculture.

10. in order to prevent the risk of loosing traditional occupation in the field of agriculture by using new modern mechanization farmer should be encourage to change their box thinking and seek for positive and possible alternative job opportunities regarding and relevant to the field of agriculture as starting of business of chemical, agriculture equipment, machinery repair and ext.

11. Government should involve specially in this problem with the purpose of upgrading the productivity which can strongly correlated to the national economy as follows.

a. implementing the infrastructure specially in remote area

b. opening buying centre where farmers can obtain stable income through out the year

c. government should provide to facilitate technical support relevant to agricultural industry on free or low cost basis


1. Activating All Powers in Sri Lanka Agriculture- G.K. Upawansa and Rukman Wagachchi

2. Handy guide to agriculture by Dr. Thilak T. Ranasinghe

3. Directory of Research Centers in Sri Lanka

4. National Agricultural Information Network

5. A Policy Rule for the Liberalization of Agriculture in Sri Lanka HN Thenuwara

6. Rice production on acid soils of the tropics by EN Ponnamperuma

7. Harti agricultural commodity review 2006

8. Harti agricultural commodity review 2007

9. Harti agricultural commodity review 2008


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