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Steel is rice, rice is steel


How have other countries dealt with this issue of large numbers of workers having no work during certain periods of production?

Economist & foreign-funded NGOS like Advocata, Verite, Pathfinder, etc, trumpeted by local media choirs, have long promoted destroying not just national health policies but also local industry & agriculture, demanding we turn arable land into real-estate.

Yet a Daily Mirror editorial, in a fit of common sense a few months ago, noted: “Until 2 weeks ago, for nearly 4 decades or so, political leaders happily imported rice citing the high cost of production here. Farmers were neglected & 100,000s of paddy lands abandoned due to poor patronage by consecutive regimes.

Despite this pathetic state of affairs, some 100,000s of determined farmers toiled on. Thanks to them today, during the lock down, there was enough rice for a few more months. It is anybody’s guess as to what would have happened, had the remaining farmers too given up agriculture. With no ships coming, Lanka would have been forced to starve!

It is high time the rulers realize their mandatory duty towards farmers. There is no other option left for us, but to be self-sufficient and if possible, make SL the ‘Granary of the East’ once again”        

But it’s a limited common sense, the Mirror exhibits. In fact, the import of rice, especially accelerated with the English destruction of the irrigation system during its genocidal wars here, with the English expropriation of farmers’ common & forest land, and with the imposition of the slave plantation system in the 1840s.

The Mirror editorial crucially also does not ask: Why is the cost of agricultural production high? Is it due to the high cost of labor? Why is the cost of labor high? Is it due to the cost of food? Why is the cost of food high? We can keep going around in circles with these questions.

One reason has to do with the enigma of having both a surplus & a scarcity of workers at the same time. Why is this? It has to do with the particular cycle of rice production, due to the sporadicity or the uneven application of rural work. How have other countries dealt with this issue of large numbers of workers having no work during certain periods of production?

They have based modern industrial production in the countryside, utilizing the gaps in rice production. In fact, the making of parts was designed to fit into the rhythms of the agricultural cycle. This, accompanied by land reform, which ensured farmers a minimum economic holding of land, enabled a boost in labor productivity, which kept prices low.

Another significant target of colonial invasions was the irrigation systems. So what happened to the JVP’s 1,000 Vaeva program to revive the ancient waterways? Irrigation techniques and the solidarity needed to build and maintain the great & multitudinous reservoirs & channels was at the very basis of those feats.

Read www.eesrilanka.wordpress.com to learn not just about the economy but the economists, learning about the latter being precondition to understanding the former.

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