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Organic Agriculture Training

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Introduction

Traditionally an agricultural community, cultivation is still one of the main livelihoods in Sri Lanka. But unsustainable farming practices such as Chena (slash and burn agriculture), intensive farming lands, use of chemicals and mono cropping have taken their toll on the health of the land and the local community.

Problems such as pollution of water, soil erosion, poor soil nutrition, poor crop nutrition and a destruction of habitat for native biodiversity have lead to health issues in both human and animal communities and an increase in extinctions in the natural world.

Farmers, often the poorest members of a community, face a range of additional issues such as:

  • Loan repayments required to purchase seeds and chemical
  • Rent payments on leased lands
  • Lack of proper storage facilities and techniques, resulting in damaged harvests which reduces the market value of crops
  • Exploitation by middle men
  • High cost of transport to take goods to markets
  • Labour shortages during peak season
  • Climatic problems due to climate change

Converting to organic farming addresses many of these issues by:

  • Conserving natural resources and enabling long-term, productive farming on small land areas
  • Restoring ecological functions such as water filtration and pollination
  • Setting-up of community seed banks so farmers can reduce the amount of seeds they need to purchase
  • Reducing farmer expenditure on items such as chemical fertilizer and pesticides
  • Increasing the quality of produce
  • Providing income diversification opportunities by designing farm lands using a range of crops
  • Teaching farmers how to add value to their products by processing them into pickles, chutneys etc.
  • Restoring natural agricultural functions such as soil conservation, which will make farm management easier over the long-term
  • Restoring forest cover to protect and conserve native biodiversity