Paddy farmers’ attitude on cash grant as the fertilizer subsidy: A case in Badulla district of Sri Lanka

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In Sri Lanka, fertilizer subsidy programme was simultaneously implemented with the introduction of high yielding paddy varieties. Since then, a number of changes were undertaken with regards to the fertilizer subsidy policy. A significant change happened during 2016 with the introduction of cash grand (fertilizer allowance) programme as an alternative for the fertilizer subsidy. Objectives of the study were to analyse the socio-economic characteristics of farmers and their attitude towards the alternative cash grant for the fertilizer subsidy, to evaluate the effect of cash grant on fertilizer usage and paddy yield and also to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of cash grant programme. A field survey was conducted to collect data from 120 farmers in Badulla from August to October 2017. Statistical tools including one sample t-test, Wilcoxon signed rank test and paired t-tests were used to analyse the collected data, along with descriptive statistics. As per the results, majority of the farmers were male and their general education level was up to ordinary level. They had a positive attitude towards providing a cash grant. However, they had showed a negative attitude on the amount of the cash grant programme and the time of receiving it. Furthermore, there was a reduction in fertilizer usage and paddy yield because of the cash grant programme. Reduction of wastage and corruptions of politicians, support of farmer organization and Convenience of providing an alternative cash grant for farmers were identified as strengths of fertilizer allowance while farmers’ negative attitude was a weakness about this alternative solution. Apart from that, possibility of transforming into organic agriculture, using quality fertilizer, low production cost and environmental protection were recognised as opportunities of the cash grant. In contrast, higher market price of fertilizer, time of receiving and tenant farmer conflicts were recognised as threats of cash grant programme. Therefore, it is required to make the cash grant program efficient and effective in future. Furthermore, arranging training and education programmes for farmers in order to adapt organic agriculture is timely important.