By Upatissa Pethiyagoda –
Many are the problems facing us, with no radical and necessary changes being proposed. I focus on just two of them. Shortages of milk powder and “Yellowing” of paddy.
Many of our children are diagnosed as being malnourished, under-weight or stunted. This is intolerable on both moral and health grounds. Coconut milk (Polkiri) is said to be the closest in composition (chemical) to human mothers’ milk. This may be a temporary means of getting over this immediate shortage. It would obviously be on pediatric advice, in individual instances. On the negative side is the (unconfirmed) likelihood of an enforced diarrhea. This could be expected to be mild and temporary.
Due to curtailment of imports of muriate of potash, symptoms of potassium deficiency have shown up in many crops. Greatest attention has focused on a condition manifesting as “Yellowing” of paddy in several areas. Particularly alarming has been its widespread appearance in areas around Amparai, regarded as the area of highest yield. Potassium deficiency is suspect on the manifest symptoms.
Coconut water (Pol watura) is among the highest potassium rich natural products. It is also a troublesome nuisance in desiccated coconut factories. Why not use this “Waste Product” as an emergency palliative until muriate of potash is available again?
The untreated waste water from DC mills, is known to cause symptoms of excess potassium, particularly in paddy fields. If appropriately diluted, it would be a very useful substitute emergency measure until the familiar “muriate of potash” is available again.
Of particular interest is the suspicion that this “Yellowing” may be due to a nematode infestation. An obvious possibility is that it has entered through the hastily introduced “Cpmpost” from India and China. This is worthy of investigation. If left unchecked, we may be again on the brink of disaster. The TRI has been (Not totally successfully) in dealing with the Nematode Pratylenchus loosi, for decades, even warranting a Nematology Division, catering solely for managing this recalcitrant pest.