Minister of Agriculture Mahin-da Yapa Abeywardena visited homes in Weligama, Jayawickr-amapura in the Southern Province under the Sustainable Agricultural Development Project (SADP) recently, noting the progress in both livelihood and quality of life among families enrolled in the program.
SADP is a unique program under ‘Outreach Projects (Guarantee) Limited,’ the CSR arm of Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC, 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 handouts and the increment of input based on the commitment of the beneficiaries to rise above poverty.
SADP, launched in 2005 operates in 12 districts in Sri Lanka. Over 12,000 families are currently enrolled in the SADP program, with the total number of beneficiaries exceeding 44,300.
Families are voluntarily enrolled in the program and introduced to home gardening and animal husbandry during a period of 30 months, as means to improve their livelihoods, nutrition levels, empower women, enrich the environment and encourage maximum land utilisation, gain economic independence and ultimately achieve self-sustainability.
Speaking on the project, Minister Abeywardena said: “Agriculture has always been a major economic force in Sri Lanka, making a significant contribution to our economy, national food security and employment. At the same time, agriculture is the livelihood of the majority in the rural sector and plays a key role in alleviating rural poverty. Sustainable Agriculture programs such as SADP strengthen nation building and rural economic development efforts. Seeing the vast improvements in the lives of SADP beneficiaries is truly encouraging.”
An Independent study on SADP in early 2013, revealed that on average, a SADP family’s monthly income level increase by Rs. 7,744 during stage 01, Rs. 11,180 in stage 02, Rs. 14,134 in stage 03 and maintain income of Rs. 11,912 due to SADP.
Meanwhile, the study further revealed significant improvements in a family’s daily nutritional intake after joining SADP. The produce from their home gardens have improved a family’s overall daily nutritional intake with significant increases in protein, vitamin, calcium and iron intake.
During stage one of SADP, families are registered and taught to develop their own parameter fencing, compost pits, educated about vegetable and fruit cultivation and handed plants and seeds to begin their own home gardens. In stage two, families are additionally introduced to poultry farming, adding eggs – a much needed source of protein, to their daily meals. During stage three, families are introduced to goat raring, for milk and other dairy based products. Here, families are also exposed to mushroom cultivation, to increase their income.
Once families successfully complete these stages and reach self-sustenance, they graduate from the program. Post-graduation SADP officers continue to visit families to ensure the continuity of their agriculture learning and practices. No cash hand-outs are given to the families under any stage.
This project is independently appraised on a regular basis by the global accounting house Ernst & Young chartered accountants as part of good corporate governance ethic. SADP over the years has evolved to meet specific demographic requirements, resulting in hybrids of the original program.
SADP PLUS focuses specifically on the Trincomalee and Kilinochchi Districts where farmers are from previously war-affected areas and have access to more land than their SADP counterparts in the south. Therefore, in addition to the program’s home gardening practices, cash crops such as maize and ground nuts are introduced to them.
SADP LITE was initiated at the request of the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prisons Reforms to assist the Army in the rehabilitation of 1449 ex-LTTE combatants through agriculture at the Kandakadu Farm run by the Army in the Polonnaruwa District. This project was completed in 2011. SADP MEGA is a 12-acre organic model farm in Sooriyawewa that was set up to share and exchange agricultural expertise and best practices with interested parties in the south of Sri Lanka. SADP has 7,715 registered families, SADP PLUS has 2,700 families and SADP LITE has 1,447 beneficiaries. Since its inception, over 8,071 families have successfully graduated from the program.