Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

November 2011 field visit

The 5th and 6th November saw a major field visit from the Born Free Sri Lanka team to the ERC project in Rathambalagama. This was an opportunity to not only assess the project progress on the ground, but also to hold a workshop for the participants and distribute seedlings for the next season. Born Free Country Assistant Dileepa Wattegama reports:

"On the afternoon of 5th November we visited the farmers to evaluate their success in the last season. We saw both success and the failed stories.  Some farmers had invested a lot of time and labour to protect their cultivation in the dry season and they got a good harvest at the end. All the farmers were invited to participate in the workshop next day and to collect their share of planting materials for the new season. We purchased the necessary turmeric rootstock from one the farmers who had achieved a successful harvest in his first season. Naturally he was delighted – it cost him nothing but some modest labour to earn this money!

The farmer meeting on the 6th was the next main activity of the field visit. We started at 9.00am at Rathambalagama School. Nirmala (the Project Supervisor) led a detailed discussion about the first phase to evaluate the successes and failures – including the effects of the unpredictable climate. Then we moved on to the second phase. The farmers were given their personal record folders and trained on how to maintain crop/farming records along with the incidents of elephant raids.

There was then a discussion session on environmentally healthy farming practices, in particular the use of organic fertilizers and pesticides as against commercially available, synthetic products. The local Ayurvedic doctor pointed out the medical benefits of using organic treatments and volunteered to promote the ERCs. He also announced that his Department is ready to purchase clean ERC products for the production of indigenous medicine. This was a good motivation for farmers at the meeting and a great market opportunity for the crops that they cultivate.

After the meeting we started distributing the ERC seeds and saplings. Thirty farmers between them received 27kg of turmeric rootstocks, 1,400 black pepper seedlings and 390 betel seedlings."

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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