Adoption of agronomic practices by smallholder rice farmers in Ampara district
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Sri Lanka's staple food rice is cultivated all over the country. In most part of Sri Lanka rice is grown on small holdings. Ampara district is one of the major rice producing districts in the country. The total production in the year 2012 was 615, 291 mt. The dependence of rural households on agriculture for employment and food security especially in rice farming is inevitable. Although introduction of high yielding rice varieties and improved agronomic practices have contributed to achieve self sufficiency in rice, majority of poor households, predominantly small scale farmers are still experiencing food shortage and poverty. The adoption of appropriate rice agronomic practices is essential to improve the final output of rice cultivation. Since adoption leads to increased production, it is vital to find out the adoption level of smallholder paddy farmers in the district. In this regard, a study was designed to investigate the adoption of agronomic practices by the smallholder paddy farmers in Ampara district. Hundred number of smallholder paddy farmers with 120 ha of landholdings were randomly selected for this study. Structured questionnaires were used to collect primary data. Secondary data necessary for the study were obtained from relevant sources. The study reveals that the use of combined paddy harvesters for harvesting purpose is in increasing trend in the district. Around 350 combined paddy harvesters were available in the district with different types. Kubota, John Deere and Agrotech are the common types used by the paddy farmers in the district. Majority of the smallholders (82%) are using machineries for land preparation (Around 70% of them are using four wheel tractors and 12% are using two wheel tractors for land preparation), threshing (92%), and winnowing (98%). Majority of the farmers (97%) in the district were not satisfied with paddy storage facilities provided by the government. It was good to note that 88% of the smallholder paddy farmers in the district apply the recommended level of fertilizers. Almost all the farmers (99%) were practising chemical pest and disease control. It was also found that majority of them were not aware of Integrated Pest and Disease management practices. Therefore, actions need to be taken by the Extension Officers and other relevant officers to educate the smallholder paddy farmers in the Ampara district especially regarding Integrated Pest and Disease management practices and make them to adopt those practices.