RAMBEWA, Sri Lanka -- Gentle mounds of freshly harvested but sickly looking maize are spread over a black plastic sheet at a farmhouse in Rambewa, a village in the north-central Sri Lankan district of Anuradhapura.
"This is a very bad season, the worst for us," said Ranasinghe Arachige Swarna, her eyes moist with tears. "I pawned my gold chain, got loans, but now will not have money to pay the debts," the 50-year-old said. Maize, a popular crop in South Asia, is used in animal feed for the poultry industry. In a good year, local farmers produce 300,000 metric tons, about half of the annual requirement.