the dry rice fields on the Betsimitatatra plain

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At the beginning of the growing season, the lack of irrigation of the rice fields threatens to harvest. While rice planting should have started a month ago, many rice growers on the Betsimitatatra plain, which has 30,000 hectares of rice fields, have not been able to start operations.

as reported from Antananarivo, LaetitiaBezain

While several centimeters of water are required to be able to transplant the rice plants, in Ambohitrimanjaka, 13 km northwest of the capital, most of the rice fields are dry or barely wet, like Arsène Raherilala.

“I was hoping the water would come and I sowed my rice a month ago, but I lost everything. Everything has dried. We all have the same problem here. Instead of buying food for our money, we are forced to keep some to buy seeds, in the hope that the water will come in. Last year’s harvest was already poor. There was not enough rain and we have already lost 50% of our crops compared to the year before. ”

A few meters away, Evariste Rasolofomanana did not even try to transplant her rice. He makes bricks with clay from his rice rice. A subsistence activity that farmers usually do outside the growing season.

“It’s impossible to grow rice in there. We are waiting for the water to come. I used to harvest around 600 kilos of rice. Afterwards I made bricks in my rice field. Now it is no longer rice, but bricks our livelihood. This is what allows us to buy rice because we cannot grow it. ”

While 80% of the inhabitants are farmers, on the plains some have preferred to sell their land, explains Lalaina Ratovoherisoa. “They sold their rice fields because they already had poor harvests last year. They were forced to sell their land to eat. What we need is a real pond that will provide water. The cultures of the locals here benefit everyone. If there is no water, there is nothing to eat. ”

Contacted, the Director General of Apipa (Authority for the Protection of Floods on the Antananarivo Plain), an organization that manages irrigation on the Antananarivo Plain, indicates that only 26 million m3 of water could be delivered from the river Ikopa to irrigate these rice fields instead of the 56 million m3 required and requested by Jirama, the public water distribution company.

In question, among other things, a shorter rainy season this year. “The rainfall was also a bit below normal. Lake Tsiazompaniry, which feeds the Ikopa River, could not store enough water this year. This Ikopa river is used for different sectors, especially the drinking water supply and according to the water code, it is drinking water that has priority over other sectors “, specifies RantoRakotonjanahary.

“Because we got some water, we are forced to invite the rice farmers to apply the water tower. For example, an area is watered for ten days and then it is the turn of another area, ”he explains.

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