Tobacco farmers transitioning to diversified, sustainable agriculture

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC), announced the introduction of a sustainable agriculture program for tobacco leaf farmers across the country in 2013, aimed at introducing the farmers to better crop management techniques, improving their contribution to the national food production and promoting the growing of vegetables to fulfil their dietary requirements. Conducted as an extension of the Sustainable Agriculture Development Programme (SADP), CTC’s flagship CSR initiative, SADP Ultra further enables them to generate an additional income by selling the surplus produce. As a respected corporate citizen in Sri Lanka, CTC is committed to conducting its business in a socially responsible manner. In this regard, the company places special focus on its leaf production as well as empowering and improving the livelihoods of one of its key stakeholders; the leaf farmer. With 4,100 farmers spread across nine districts, the tobacco farming sector infused Rs. 1.4 billion to the rural economy of the country in 2013. Based on the feedback received from the stakeholder engagement programs conducted, CTC’s Leaf Department began to develop a sustainable cropping model for their farmers, with the support of the Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resource Management Centre (NRMC). These combined efforts resulted in the launch of SADP Ultra, with the objective of improving the overall quality of life of the leaf farmer. Under this initiative, the farmers are provided with the necessary supplies and know-how to grow other field crops (OFC) such as Maize, Green Gram, Long Bean, White Cowpea and Red Onion in addition to their existing cultivation. These crops fulfil agricultural needs such as functioning as wind barriers, being effective in integrated pest management, serving as either alley or border crops and maintaining an overall improved level of biodiversity. The program not only improves the lives of the beneficiary farmer, but also results in converting them into model farmers, participating in peer-to-peer sharing of agricultural best practices. SADP Ultra has supported the livelihood of 4,100 tobacco farmers and over 16,000 beneficiaries in its inaugural year.