Gazing out over the parched earth of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, one might think these farmlands have not seen water in years. In fact, this is not too far from the truth.
By now, the tale has become almost mundane: first the rains remain elusive, refusing to quench the parched earth. Then, without warning, they fall in such torrents that they leave scores dead, hundreds injured, and thousands homeless, plus a heavy bill in accrued damages.
Stuck in mid-day rush hour traffic, commuters packed tight into a tin-roofed bus in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, peer expectantly up at the sky that is beating a savage heat down on the city.
Zareena Bano has had to skip school 17 times this year to help out on her family’s farm in Tangchekh village in the northern Indian state of Kashmir.
Bangladesh, a country of 150 million people who depend on rice as their main staple, is gearing up for drought. Already huge areas of the rice-producing regions are on a knife's edge, as elusive rains and hotter temperatures team up on thirsty paddy fields and threaten to disrupt food supply.
Yukako Harada, an energetic 29-year-old, is part of a small but determined band of women farmers working hard to revitalise Japan’s moribund agricultural sector, which is feeling the crunch of an ageing population and a flood of cheap imports.
When 45-year-old Kaswati joined an income-generating project in her village in Indonesia’s West Java province in 1999, all she hoped to do was supplement her family’s income at a time of erratic harvests.
The future of food security in the Mekong region lies at a crossroads, as several development ventures, including the Xayaburi Hydropower Project, threaten to alter fish migration routes, disrupt the flow of sediments and nutrients downstream, and endanger millions whose livelihoods depend on the Mekong River basin's resources.
“I would never have believed it possible to get a bumper rice harvest during the drought season,” 43-year-old Mohammad Shajahan Ali, a farmer hailing from the village of Magtapur in Bangladesh’s northern Chapainawabganj district, told IPS.
It was another Monday afternoon in the remote Thai village of Baan Dong when an incoming text message lit up the black, dust-covered Nokia phone belonging to Eiem Sompeng.
Fahima Begum rises each morning at dawn and walks two kilometres to a small pond, the nearest source of fresh water. On her way she passes the rusty old hand-pumped tube well that used to supply water to her village in Bangladesh’s arid Barind region until the water table here dropped out of reach.
Last October, at the beginning of Indonesia’s rainy season, a 37-year-old farmer named Herinurdin took a leap of faith. Instead of planting corn in his entire 1.3-hectare rainfed farm in the Sukabumi town of West Java, as his family had done for generations, he sowed 1,600 square metres worth of rice instead.