Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Passion Fruit Project

School headmaster with passion fruit crop
School headmaster with passion fruit crop

School is a great place to explore and learn about ‘best practice’ for many activities in adult life. One way in which Born Free has helped Rathambalagama School is to assist in the demonstration of elephant resistant farming practices (see HEC Fieldwork).

The school identified passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) as one of the crops that elephants do not feed on in this area, and also as having a good year round market value. Consequently they introduced more than 300 saplings to a one acre land plot in school premises in early 2010. Born Free helped them with funding for the structures supporting vine growth and for agricultural tools.

The school children have been intimately involved in the project, with each child taking responsibility for a cluster of plants and learning hand-on lessons about plant husbandry. With the first fruits ripening in October 2010, the organic cultivation expects to bring a revenue of 165 GBP per month which will be credited to the School Fund. And as an additional benefit, young leaves are used as green salads in the school meals!

We also wanted to go further and make this farming model an integrated one. Bee keeping (Apis cerana) in passion fruit cultivation helps in two ways -  pollination by the bees increases the harvest, and bee honey can also provide an additional income source. Apiculture (bee keeping) is considered as an elephant resistant livelihood in human-elephant conflict areas as elephants are not known to seek out honey or damage hives. At the end of the 2010 we supplied the school with several hives, and training in how to nurture the bee colonies and collect the honey.

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

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