It was reported that wild animals have destroyed 144,989 metric tonnes of 28 food crops, including paddy and 93 million coconuts, in the first half of 2022, the Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation Ministry said.
The details were tabled at a discussion held at the meeting and following research conducted by the ministry.
They said the value of the food crop production amounting to Rs.30,215 million, especially when estimated based on the prices obtained from recognized sources. The report also said that the threat posed to food security by all of the above parameters is not insignificant in the way that wildlife resists agricultural livelihoods.
Therefore, the Ministry had appointed a committee to study the measures to be taken in the future to prevent the damage caused by wild animals to plantations and forests, human-elephant conflicts and to obtain opinions and suggestions from various parties.
Coconuts were the most damaged crop in 2022. The country had lost 51,816 hectares of coconut plantations in 207 agricultural service development jurisdictions in the 21 districts of the island, and the total number of coconuts lost to the country exceeds 93 million nuts. The total land area under coconut cultivation in those areas is 275,540 hectares. Out of this, the total extent of coconut land that has been damaged by wild animals is 21%. The 93 million coconuts damaged by wild animals incurred a loss to the country exceeds Rs. 6638 million.
The impact on rice cultivation is not insignificant. The country has lost 5.6%, or 31,922 hectares, of the total paddy cultivation area in the 2021/22 season due to animal damage.
However, the minister also advised the relevant officials not to include wild elephants, stags and deer in the list of animals that cause crop damage. (Chaturanga Pradeep Samarawickrama)
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