A better tomorrow with a common tractor
The UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) recently presented a common tractor to the Rural Development Society (RDS) in Vahanery, in the Batticaloa District, with the aim of developing the livelihood and income opportunities of the farmer community in the area.
Paddy cultivation is the main source of income for half of the households in Vahanery. However, of around the 400 families engaged in paddy cultivation, only two possess their own tractor. Therefore, farmers have been forced to hire tractors from neighbouring villages or towns to carry out their activities. However, as tractors were limited there was no guarantee. In addition, those who borrowed a tractor were faced with yet another difficulty of hiring a driver. Only six people in the entire village owned the driver’s license for four-wheel vehicles that was required to drive a tractor.
One ploughing season has passed since the tractor was handed over by the UNDP and the farmer community is just beginning to reap its benefits. Seenythamby Sellathamgy, a paddy farmer and a member of the RDS in Vahanery stated, “I have three acres of paddy fields. In this ploughing season, for the first time, I borrowed the common tractor from the RDS and ploughed five times. This time I didn’t need to be anxious about arranging the schedule unlike last times. I was happy that I could sow rice at the proper time.”
The rental fee of the common tractor is similar to those of other villages, as they need to pay for the driver and save for maintenance expenses as well. However, looking ahead, the Treasurer of the RDS noted that if more people come to use the tractor, the rental fee would be reduced. He expressed hope that even though the farmers lost their crops this season and are experiencing hardship again, the new common tractor will enable them to enjoy a better future within their society.