From the soil to the table | Daily News


From the soil to the table

An organic farming community shows the way in Anuradhapura:
Snapshots of the home gardens in Sudarshana Village and the making of organic manure.  Pictures by Hidogama Group Corr.
Snapshots of the home gardens in Sudarshana Village and the making of organic manure. Pictures by Hidogama Group Corr.

A group of enterprising women in Sudarshana Village, Padaviya, Anuradhapura, have turned to organic farming in a big way, helping to feed their entire village with wholesome food, free of pesticides and chemical fertiliser.

“We enjoy nurturing organic gardens. Now our children and husbands do not have to consume harmful chemicals with their food. We used to spend about Rs. 5,000 a month on vegetables. Now that money too is saved. Everyone in the house is now happy to help with our organic cultivation,” says W.S Dhammika, who pioneered the concept in the village.

“A gentleman who works for a newspaper came and informed us about the potential of organic farming. Nimal Padmasiri of the Institute of Rural Society Development helped us to realise that dream. Previously we were under the impression that vegetables could not be made without chemical fertilizers and chemical oils. But we did as they told us to do. At first, we were wary of the project. Now it is successful and vegetables are freely available all over the village and they have no toxins. The value of growing vegetables and fruits using organic fertilizers cannot be overstated. Now there is no possibility of us eating poisoned food and falling ill. The mental healing that is felt is invaluable. Also, in the morning, we have a beautiful garden to look at.”

Dhammika also thanked President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for promoting the idea of a localized economy sans imports of essential food items that can be grown locally, possibly without using chemical fertilisers and weedicides. “Thanks to his astute leadership during the Coronavirus crisis, we did not suffer. In fact, the Coronavirus crisis was a blessing in disguise for us, as we tended to our gardens more during the lockdown. The entire village participated in our home gardens programme. We now invite the President to come to Sudarshana Village in Padaviya and look at our home gardens and encourage us even more.”

A.W. Achini Sadamali, another organic farmer, said she could well remember the time when weeds had grown around the house and they had other work to do every day. “So when these gentlemen informed us about organic home gardening, we thought we could take to it. We started work and now it is successful. Now we do not eat poison. A successful harvest is becoming a reality. The person who works for the newspaper told us that 25 vegetables could be grown easily in our plot of land. The gentleman said that it is sufficient to apply fertilizer only once for the plants. We could not believe that. But we did not give up. Actually, he is right.”

“In a three-foot plot of land we have now planted 15 to 20 varieties of vegetables. The harvest can be reaped now. Organic manure made from dung, straw, garbage, water hyacinth (Japan Jabara), albizia leaves and neem leaves in our village is now available in every home. I think the women who live in Sudarshana Village are lucky. Now we do not eat poison anymore. We are grateful to the person who works for the newspaper, Nimal Padmasiri and all those who supported this programme and to all those who contributed to this programme in Sudarshana Village.”

The village has another programme to produce organic fertilizer. Speaking on this eco-friendly project, H. Pathma Mayadunne of Sudarshana Village said, “We are using the aquatic plants and cow dung that we could access easily in this area to produce the organic fertilizer. The leftovers in our home kitchens will also be used. Today, with the coordination of a journalist, the Institute of Rural Social Development taught us how to make money by utilizing everything disposable and environmentally friendly. Following the project, now we understand the amount of resources we wasted due to lack of knowledge. Now we understand that all we disposed of earlier can be turned into a source of income. We would like to extend our gratitude to those who made us aware of this means of livelihood.”

Another villager who is part of the project, W.M.G.M. Daya Kumari said, “Since we are using all the unnecessary aquatic plants, the lake will be beautiful in the future. Our houses and home gardens will be beautiful. We will also get an income. Also, the women in our village who will consume organic vegetables will be beautiful.”

Nimal Padmasiri, the Executive Director of the Institute of Rural Social Development, speaking on the occasion said, “When the President tries to give organic fertilizer to the farmers, we have to produce the organic fertilizers from the village. That is our duty. The President hopes to provide non-toxic food to the people of Sri Lanka in the future. We would like to thank all these women in Sudarshana Village who have contributed to the success of this project. We are happy to provide guidance for this project. These women are talented. Organic fertilizer will be produced in 50 houses in this village. The women who claimed to be poor will get an income as well,” Padmasiri said.

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