ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMICS OF PLANTING TEAK TREES IN ABANDONED PADDY LANDS A CASE STUDY FROM NORTH WESTERN PROVINCE
Large extents of paddy lands are abandoned in the North Western Province. Eventhough low productivity of paddy lands and lack of water at the correct timesseem to be the obvious reasons, the economics of paddy cultivation is as or moreimportant reason for abandoning large extents of paddy lands in this fertileprovince.
This paper describes, the engineering that was needed to convert paddy lands tothose on which teak trees could be planted; the extended benefit cost analysis ofplanting teak trees in five hectares of abandoned paddy lands; the barriers and theconstraints to obtaining approval for a project that could provide obviousenvironmental benefits; and the actual experiences and behaviour of theengineered project; as the case study.
The engineering that was needed to convert paddy lands, which were on levelsurfaces to those on which teak trees could be planted without refilling, isdescribed. The levelling, design and construction of canals to provide drainageand minor irrigation to the teak plantation, and the actual experiences andbehaviour of the engineered project are highlighted.
The extended benefit cost analysis considered the opportunity cost of abandonedpaddy lands, the economic cost of engineered waterways that are needed toconvert paddy lands to those on which teak trees could be planted, the economiccost of land preparation and planting, and the economic and environmental benefitof teak trees. This analysis clearly shows that planting teak trees in abandonedpaddy lands is economically and environmentally viable option.
According to the Agrarian Services Act No.58 of 1979 it is mandatory to obtainpermission from The Commissioner of Agrarian Services prior to commencingany activity other than growing paddy in paddy lands. The experiences, barriersand constraints to obtaining approval for a project that had obvious environmentalbenefits to society is described with suggestions on how to improve on theapproval process.
As a result of the analysis of the case study, the paper concludes that planting teaktrees in abandoned paddy lands in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka iseconomically and environmentally feasible. Therefore, it is an activity that shouldbe encouraged as part of agricultural forestry or industrial crop cultivation inabandoned paddy lands.