Encourage farmers to conserve the environment through minimizing usage of agrochemicals and practicing proper waste management


Encourage farmers to conserve the environment through minimizing usage of agrochemicals and practicing proper waste management

By Anupama Dias – Consultant / Environment & Nutrition 

Green revolution or the third agricultural revolution occurred during 1950 to 1970 led farmers to use agro-chemicals aiming at increasing the crop production to fulfill the demand for food in the world.  Eventually, agrochemicals became essential agriculture input and some farmers accustomed to use excess amounts of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, weedicides and other chemicals, expecting better results.  Such inappropriate agricultural practices resulted environment degradation and harmful effects to both biotic and abiotic components of the environment. Sustainable agriculture is unattainable in a degraded or polluted environment. Therefore, controlling application of agro-chemicals and conservation of environment, especially soil, water, air and bio-diversity, in agriculture areas is of paramount of importance to ensure sustainable agriculture.

Smallholder Agribusiness Partnership Programme (SAPP) work towards improving living standards of smallholder farmers while ensuring sustainability of their livelihood. Therefore, initiatives have been designed and implemented ensuring environment conservation and climate change adaptation through proper waste disposal, soil and water conservation and carbon sink enhancement in project areas.

Moringa cultivation project in Anuradhapura district is one of the environment friendly and nutrition sensitive value chain development project implemented under SAPP. Powdered moringa leaves are used as a nutrition supplement for both children and adults as it is full of micro nutrients. Under this project farmers grow moringa adapting organic farming methods. Compost is one of the main input for the moringa cultivation and famers can cut down their cost of production by producing the required quantity of compost by themselves using bio-degradable waste that can be collected from surrounding.  By applying compost to the cultivation soil moisture can be conserved and soil physical and chemical properties can be improved.

With the intention of encouraging farmers to adapt environment friendly farming practices and contribute to mitigate climate change, an awareness programme on environment and demonstration on composting was conducted in two Project locations with the participation of 80 moringa farmers.  Further the participants were sensitized on nutrition by distributing a leaflet on balance diet, nutrient related diseases, healthy eating habits and healthy cooking methods followed by a brief discussion.

Awareness programmes were conducted at Bogaswewa village in Eppawala and Sandarasgama village in Nochchiyagama.  Majority of the villagers engaged in Agriculture and suffer from water scarcity during the dry season.

Both the villages are blessed with picturesque natural environment. Man-made water tanks and trees with different shades of green enhance beauty of the village.

Collective effort to prepare a heap of compost

Training programme conducted at Sandarasgama, Nochchiyagama Establishing a home garden using space efficiently

Training programme conducted at Sandarasgama, Nochchiyagama Importance of environment conservation

During the discussion session Senior citizens in the area shared their experiences with participants and resource persons. Before 1950s they had cultivated traditional varieties of rice and local varieties of vegetables and fruits which are tolerant to pest and diseases.  Cow dung had been one of the main fertilizers applied to the soil to improve soil fertility. There had been traditional methods to control pests and diseases which destroy or repel only the pest but no other insects.  According to them the soil is not fertile anymore and need to be corrected immediately. 

Farmers have recognized the adverse effects of usage of agro-chemicals, especially health hazards such as Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).  Reducing the population of beneficial insects and earth worms have been identified as the results of pesticide application.  

The waste management especially bio-degradable materials for composting in heap method were introduced to the farmers. Farmers were enthusiastic and encouraged to start composting in their home gardens.

Agriculture Officer of the area explained how water can be utilized efficiently for crop cultivation and home gardening.  During the dry season, it is possible to maintain a home garden with multiple crops using waste water of the kitchen. 

The participants were raised an important point that the government policy on agriculture should be in place and required to be obeyed by all generations and all the government.