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Gamaneguma bears fruit in M'gala, Polonnaruwa and H'tota

W.R.M. Dayawathi of Horabokka village in Wellawaya was collecting her passion fruit harvest when we visited her farm last week. Starting with 200 plants in 2008 she now has three acres cultivated with passion fruit from which she earns around Rs.80,000 monthly.

Project Director GSCDLIP, Karunarathne Pallegedera

Traditional farming practices have been changed in these Dry Zone villages after the Ministry of Economic Development introduced a new livelihood development program. Passion fruit cultivation is one such lucrative venture introduced by the Gamaneguma Second Community Development and Livelihood Improvement Project (GSCDLIP) of the ministry.

Passion fruit

"Passion fruit cultivation is easy compared to Chena cultivation we did previously. We can start collecting the harvest after six months and the plant does not need much chemical fertiliser and pesticides.

It also resists the drought and cost of production is low because maintaining the plantation is easy. Gamaneguma introduced low cost cultivation techniques and provided seedlings and also helps us to market the harvest", Dayawathi said.

The heavy rain that prevailed over several months has reduced her harvest this season. She said that she got a better harvest last year.

The price of passion fruit varies throughout the year and the highest price, around Rs.200/ kg is received between January and April. Today the price has dropped to Rs.50-55 kg. She said that passion fruit cultivation is more profitable than maize or sugarcane which she cultivated previously.

Livelihood facilitator of the GSCDLIP D.G. Vipulasiri said that over 50 families have started passion fruit cultivation in this area and the total land extent covered is over 600 acres.

Gamaneguma wanted to introduce livelihood projects for poor people in these villages and we found that the home based industries and traditional crops they cultivated are not profitable enough to lift them out of poverty.

Therefore, we introduced new crops such as passion fruit, pomegranate and seed paddy production. These projects are highly successful, he said.

Pomegranates

G.M. Prematilake of Veliaralanda village in Wellawaya is a model farmer of pomegranates.

He started his cultivation in 2009 in a quarter acre of land and is now helping the Gamaneguma program to promote the cultivation in the district.

"Although maintaining pomegranate cultivation is somewhat difficult, this is a very profitable business.

I collected my first harvest within six months after planting and earned over Rs. 300,000. The second year harvest was totally lost due to heavy rains, he said.

The farm gate price of pomegranate is Rs.280/kg and a large number of families have now started cultivation in the Wellawaya area. Prematilake has started a pomegranate nursery and has already sold over 12,000 plants.

Divi Neguma

Gamaneguma is also supporting the implementation of the Divi Neguma program in nine districts where GSCDLIP is operating. The project has targeted to launch 100,000 domestic economic units (home gardens) said the Project Director GSCDLIP, Karunarathne Pallegedera.

Passion fruit cultivation in Wellawaya

The Divi Neguma national program was launched on March 12, by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to establish one million domestic economic units that promote domestic agriculture to make the households self-sufficient.

Pallegedera said that the GSCDLIP co-ordinates the implementation of the Divi Neguma national program in addition to establishing 100,000 domestic economic units in Gamaneguma villages.

He said that GSCDLIP has experience and expertise to contribute to this national program successfully.

Home gardens

Under Gemidiriya, phase one of our home gardening project was successfully carried out by our beneficiaries as livelihood sub projects.

Under the second phase of the project too communities carried home gardening projects successfully and have increased their income.

We have already selected farmers at village level a task force has been setup in GSCDLIP head office to launch the program, he said.

The Divineguma program aims at agriculture development at household level and helping individual households to be self-sufficient.

Under the program, an environment will be created for the families to fulfill their food requirements, improve nutrition and earn a stable monthly income.

GSCDLIP has initiated the program in Badulla, Moneragala, Hambantota, Ratnapura, Polonnaruwa, Galle, Matara, Nuwara Eliya and Kegalle districts and uses livelihood development facilitators to implement Divi Neguma at grass roots level.

GSCDLIP started 120 home gardens under Divi Neguma in Moneragala district parallel to the Deyata Kirula national development exhibition held in Buttala in February.

V.G. Premachandra in the Kukurampola village in Buttala DS division has a highly successful home garden and in addition to domestic consumption the harvest of his garden brings additional income to the family.

GSCDLIP provided planting material and training. "We did not use our home gardens properly before this program was introduced.

We were trained to manage land, select suitable crops; fruits and vegetables and produce organic fertiliser.

Our home gardens were successful and we did not feel the high vegetable price when they were at the peak a few months ago and also we could earn some extra income", Premachandra said.

There is a range of successful livelihood programs implemented by GSCDLIP in the Moneragala district. Maize cultivation in Madulla and Siyambalanduwa DS divisions has increased the income of the community by many folds.

Sales agreement

The farmers start cultivation on forward sales agreement with buyers and they have the bargaining power on price because the quantity supplied is huge and the quality of the products is guaranteed by GSCDLIP.

Farmers have knowledge and experience in making high quality maize with the five-year experience they have had with GSCDLIP.

Gamaneguma Peoples' Companies of the village co-ordinate the whole supply chain ensuring a fair price to the farmers.

In Maha season 2010 Rs.50 million was disbursed for maize cultivation by GSCDLIP. GSCDLIP also provides high yield seeds and technology to the farmers.

Amara Damayanthi in the Magandana village in Madulla DS division earns a good income by papaya cultivation.

She has also started pomegranate cultivation and a home garden under the Divi Neguma program.

W.M. Karunawathi of Vilaoya in Siyambalanduwa DS division has started banana cultivation in the land she cultivated maize during the last Maha season. GSCDLIP has provided Rs.15,000 credit and saplings.

W.M. Thilakarathne in the same village has started ginger cultivation.

All these farmers have radically changed the farming practices they used over the ages.

Pomegranates cultivation a lucrative venture

They have confidence in the new ventures because they get technical know-how, credit and an assured market.

The influence of one successful project in a village is massive and people tend to follow it.

As a result, farmers who start first have the advantage of earning an additional income by providing seedlings.

Seed paddy farming is also a successful project that has doubled the income of the paddy farmers in Gamaneguma villages.

Polonnaruwa, Hambantota districts

Piyasena Ranasinghe of Suriya Wewa is the chairman of the Seed Paddy Farmers' Association in Suriyawewa.

This Yala season he cultivated 3.5 acres of seed paddy.

According to Pallegedera, the demand for seed paddy has sharply increased after resumption of agriculture in the North and the East and as a result the price of seed paddy has increased.

Some big agro companies are exploiting the opportunity and as a result the farmers suffer.

"The objectives of our intervention into producing seed paddy are to increase the income of the farmers in Gamaneguma villages as well as provide high quality seed paddy at an affordable price to the farmers", he said.

According to Ranasinghe, due to special care the farmers take in seed paddy farming, the harvest has increased sharply and the income and profit has doubled.

The price of seed paddy is double that of normal paddy. Seed paddy produced by Gamaneguma villages is marketed by GSCDLIP with certification of the Department of Agriculture.

In the last Maha season Sooriyawewa farmers sold 6,000 bushels of seed paddy to the Northern Province farmers.

 

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