So what's the problem?
85% of Northern Sri Lanka’s population livelihoods are directly dependent on farming. Although the North previously produced a surplus of food, the 30 years of civil war has meant that farming is in disarray. Communities in the North of the country (where most of the fighting took place) were regularly displaced, severely disrupting social institutions, traditional local decision making and livelihoods. Physical assets were totally destroyed and much of the knowledge and farming support structures were lost. Now farmers, especially in the North, urgently require inputs and technical skills to re-establish their productive capacities.
What is this project doing?
This project, led by WeltHungerHilfe (a German humanitarian charity), aims to improve the livelihoods of approximately 10,000 farmer families (around 50,000 people) in post-conflict areas of northern Sri Lanka. The project team will do this by rehabilitating and improving productive physical assets including building four community livelihood centres each with cattle handling, food processing and heifer rearing units, as well as training centres. In addition, we will construct five biogas plants and renovate 12 major and 42 minor tanks for agriculture. We also aim to improve farmers’ knowledge base and creating strong farmer-based institutions and commodity specific associations in two divisions of Mulaitivu District.
To achieve this, the project will strengthen institutions by improving physical infrastructure, including agricultural extension systems. The team also aim to improve cattle breeding, management and dairy production.
CABI’s responsibility will be to work with the farmers so they understand the role of pests, diseases and beneficial insects. To do this we will operate plant clinics where farmers can bring their diseased crops for diagnoses and recommendations. We will also run farmer field schools so farmers can learn by doing and see the good results of better crop production methods.
Results so far
So far, we have held a series of meetings for the introduction and implementation of the project to different government officials at district, provincial and national level. The project team have also selected 34 Agriculture Extension Assistants (AEAs) to help in the running of this programme and conducted three and five day training of Plant Doctor Module 1 and 2 respectively for them at Vavuniya. Fourteen groups have been formed to run two permanent and two mobile plant clinics in the project area. With training conducted each week, these extension assistants have successfully completed season-long training on paddy IPM and post-harvest management and are now running IPM training on chilli and onion. AEAs are ready to run 80 farmer field
schools simultaneously on rice, chilli and onion in one year (two cropping seasons a year) in 113 villages reaching around 5,000 farmers in the project area.
We have developed curricula on vegetables (chilies and cluster onions) and rice and held various awareness raising meetings to familiarize stakeholders with the project activities and, importantly, the plant clinic concept and introduced plant doctors to villagers. The kick-off (planning workshop) has been conducted, getting provincial as well as district government officials on board. Involvement of Agriculture Instructors (or AIs) from the Department of Agriculture’s extension department to head the plant clinic teams, ensuring the sustainability of plant clinics in the future. The team has also completed a baseline survey to collect basic data on rice production, as has a questionnaire (also translated into Tamil) to collect the same information regarding onions and chillies in the project area.
The team also compiled a list of diagnostic equipment required to run the plant clinics and final training of the new plant doctors is underway.
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