Thursday, January 24, 2013

What on Earth were they thinking in a Ministry of Agrarian Services and Wildlife!

Any sane person must wonder when in a Country of over 100 Ministries, and ministers are dime a dozen, there is a Ministry that combines Wildlife with Agrarian Services. Whilst I do know there is another Ministry of Agriculture, why would Agrarian Services, which is more allied to Agriculture, have anything in common with Wildlife, which in Sri Lanka is on the opposing side. So when lands are demarcated for farmers by the Agrarian Services minister, he is also tasked with ensuring that no Sanctuaries are encroached upon. To have one person with this dual unrelated and possibly opposing ends is near lunacy.

Added to all this, a statement was made a day ago, where the CDF or Civil Defence Force, (known as Gambattas) will be called up to maintain/guard the 2500KM of elephant fences in Sri Lanka today. At any time less than half of these fences built at very high cost actually work. Elephants being intelligent creatures, know when it does not and are liable to break the fences to go in search of their food, by destroying crops and homes where paddy is stored to satisfy their desires.

3 CDF soldiers, presumably under the Ministry of Defense and paid by them, will be responsible to maintain each KM of Elephant Electrified Fences. That makes for a total of 7500 employed to maintain the cumbersome fences. One could argue that this is within his purview in ensuring the elephants are not endangered and the ministry takes steps to protect the wildlife sanctuaries from intrusion. On the other hand he is tasked with finding land, usually where there is a conflict with the forest department to set aside land for farmers to be doled out more as political favors rather than for any true economic benefit.

It is time that there is a dedicated Ministry of Wildlife, tasked with protecting only wildlife and their habitats and ONLY look into those two. They can then fight the good fight on behalf of animals, birds and other living things that are under threat, including in Agricultural and Urban Lands due to threats from encroachment.

A separate Agriculture Ministry can look into the interests of food production and productivity, using both the household and the large farm models to achieve the food goals in Sri Lanka. When a clash occurs with the protection for Wildlife a different stakeholder will be able to bat for the food production issues such as the need to control, monkeys and a host of other pests. Giving the Fox the keys to the Chicken coop as is done must be stopped forthwith and the different objectives of stakeholders preserved, rather than have one cover both interests simultaneously.

A conflicted Ministry, a conflicted thought process and conflicting goals that are at cross purposes is the last thing we want for two crucial areas of the Nation's future.


Anonymous said...

Agriculture on one side of the fence and elephants on the other!

Thats what they were thinking when they joined the two! That is the sort of logic Sri Lanka excels at.

Anonymous said...

i don't know whether it was the original intention, it's actually not a bad idea for the 2 to be combined so they can be coordinated better. Putting two opposing forces under one roof will help make sure that both sides of the debate are considered in policy making rather than operate under independent and opposing spheres. well done!

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

When you are both judge and jury you are open to a conflict.

How can they on the one had supply guns to the farmers channeled through the agricultural extension officers and then protect the same wild life from being killed as part of the responsibilities for conservation of endangered species.

Actually in my case my property is on one side of the elephant fence. I just want the fence maintained and I have a section that I have to keep clear of shrubs and plants!

All comments are greatly appreciated thanks