Invasive plant eating into farm land

By P. Gunathileke

A giant plant that looks like the nidikumba plant is mushrooming in lands, showing signs of threatening the environment. It grows to a height of about five feet and even the dry weather does not seem to make it wither.

Farmer Ratnayake pointing out the wild plants seen in the background.

Many lands in villages in the Dambulla electorate, especially around the Pallepola area are covered with this rogue plant. It encroaches on paddy fields too and is growing profusely but the relevant authorities do not seem to be doing anything to arrest the growth of this plant.

Farmers are apprehensive about the growth of this plant. One farmer, R. M. G. B. Ratnayake (60) said that the plant started to grow about five years ago, but the authorities took no action when a complaint was made about it. It started to grow unhindered and now it has run wild, though some farmers did weed and burn it at the early stages. It is a useless plant that absorbs valuable minerals needed for other plants to survive, he said.

Though some officials had visited the areas affected, nothing was done about it and now it even has spread to the paddy fields, he said. Another farmer, R Nandakumara said that his farm land is now affected due to the growth of this giant plant which grows wherever its seeds fall. He said attempts to stem its growth were desultory as far as he knew. Another expressed similar sentiments saying that appeals to officials concerned had fallen on deaf ears.

“Soon we will have to stop our paddy cultivation,” he said. When asked to comment on the matter Pallepola Pradeshiya Sabha chairman J. Dissanayake said that around 100 acres of land in his area too had been covered by this plant. He said that though the authorities were made aware of this, nothing seems to be happening to counter its growth.

He said it was a pity that in spite of the fact there is a ministry dealing with environmental affairs, nothing has been done to stem the growth of this menacing plant. Unless counter measures are adopted, the poor farmer will be a victim of the mushrooming of this rogue plant, he said.

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