SADP Model Farm in Sooriyawewa imparts agricultural best practices

Monday, 27 January 2014 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Sustainable Agricultural Development Program (SADP) is Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC’s (CTC) flagship CSR project. The program to date has touched the lives of over 16,300 families and over 66,442 beneficiaries in 16 districts across the country. SADP is a unique program designed to empower rural villagers living below the poverty line in Sri Lanka. Working on the philosophy of “helping those who are willing to help themselves”, some of the salient features of SADP are voluntary registration, no cash hand-outs and the increment of input, which is based on the commitment of the beneficiaries to rise above poverty. In recent years, SADP has evolved to meet new national challenges, resulting in hybrids of the original program. One such example is the extension of the SADP program by developing a model farm in Sooriyawewa. This project known as “SADP Mega” is carried out in collaboration with the Na Sevana Development Project. The Sooriyawewa model farm project was initiated in 2011 and through this CTC has introduced many pioneering agricultural techniques, practices and innovations to farmer beneficiaries. A plant nursery has also been established and is being maintained by CTC in Sooriyawewa. On a recent visit to Sri Lanka, British American Tobacco South Asia Area Director Graeme Amey visited the farm and inaugurated the plant nursery. The aim of this nursery is to provide farmers around the area with a range of high quality saplings including dragon fruit, lime, orange, pomegranate, kathurumuranga, bougainvillea, jasmine, areca nut, guava, passion fruit, pepper, beetle, mango, neem, jak fruit, cashew, and papaya. Special focus is placed on fostering the cultivation of the indigenous crop of neem, the leaf and seed kernel of which is essential in the preparation of a botanical formulation used for “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM). In addition to IPM, the farm utilises gravity-based sprinkler irrigation during the Yala harvest season and during periods of drought. The farm further adopts straw mulching to retain water, which is especially valuable during seasons of drought. This technique also controls weeds in the short term, while functioning as organic manure (compost) in the long run, a fertiliser widely used within the farm. CTC employs the Sooriyawewa model farm to contribute to maintaining bio-diversity, while imparting innovative agricultural techniques, environmental best practices and knowledge to the farmers in the area. The produce from the 12 acre model farm includes permanent crops such as soursop, mango, guava, lime, orange, pomegranate, king coconut and kathurumurunga, as well as other seasonal crops.