People’s Leasing & Finance embarks on organic farming project
Monday, 26 August 2013 00:00
People’s Leasing & Finance PLC are embarking on a venture to change the public’s view on healthy foods and to promote organic farming amongst the farming community. The project will start off helping existing farmers supplement their income through organic home gardens, with the aim of eventually converting their main farms to produce organic crops.
On 16 August, selected farmers from Avissawella and Kalutara were initiated in the methods of organic and home gardening at the Dilmah Conservation Sustainable Agriculture Research Centre (DCSARC) in Moratuwa, through People’s Leasing & Finance PLC. Senior Manager (Risk Mgt. and Control) Andy Ratnayake, Asst. Branch Manager (Avissawella) Iresh Dissanayake and Ranga Hewavithana of the Badureliya Branch accompanied the 17 farmers, whilst Sarathchandra Fernando, an expert in organic farming, conducted the tour of the model farm, ably supported by Manager of the DCSARC Buddhika Jayalath.
The tour covered areas from non-chemical fertilisers, such as vermicompost created by the secretions of earth worms; natural pollination and insect repellents in the form of bees, birds and other insects; to various planting methods used to maximise the efficient use of available space and land. The tour was followed by plenty of literature provided to all and then explained in detail. An active question-and answer session ensued with the farmers being able to learn about these novel methods as well as share their own experiences and existing practices, gladly welcomed by DCSARC staff. The learning session was brought to an end by a small exercise in encouraging out-of-the-box thinking, which was enjoyed by all. As one of the farmers said at the beginning of the day, “they had come today to learn something which they did not already know,” and the day ended with all believing that this had definitely been accomplished.
Finally, seeds were generously gifted to all visitors by the DCSARC, in order for the farmers to begin on their nurseries. The project will now proceed with PLC supporting these selected farmers in establishing their own home gardens, guided by the experts and monitored throughout, with the aim of eventually extending the project to their main plots and to other districts under PLC’s reach. This project was facilitated by the Sri Lanka Business and Biodiversity Platform, a joint venture by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Dilmah Conservation.