Cargills embarks on ambitious agriculture modernisation project ‘Sarubima’ | Daily News

Cargills embarks on ambitious agriculture modernisation project ‘Sarubima’

Empowering farmers is a commitment that embodies the heart and soul of Cargills (Ceylon), which runs Sri Lanka’s biggest supermarket chain.

With this in mind, Cargills has embarked on an ambitious agriculture modernisation project, ‘Sarubima’, to create a positive impact on the local farming community and environment which they operate in.

Cargills Sarubima is a totally dedicated, efficient modern Agriculture project which ensures better yields, higher income through protected cultivation, and saving in water, labour and fertilizer cost.

Apart from all this, the project is an ideal platform to find solutions for key challenges to Agriculture sector growth in Sri Lanka which include regional disparity, dwindling interest of youth in agriculture, overuse of agro-chemicals, limited export potential of local produce, volatile weather conditions and field harvest losses.

Speaking on the concept behind Sarubima Project, Cargills Agri Business-Deputy General Manager Haridas Fernando said,

“We at Cargills are all set and committed for the Sarubima project, first of its kind in Sri Lanka. Moreover, we actively engage with our farmers in order to improve their productivity and reduce wastage in a big way.

Cargills Sarubima is a fund established by Cargills (Ceylon) PLC in 2008 in Thanamalwila where the Company initiated a concept of giving-back 50 cents for each kilogram of vegetables purchased from the farmers in the community to be utilized for community empowerment.

We provide them with extension services, technical input, guidance on best practices such as Good Agricultural Practices(GAP) to improve their access to the market.”

GAP certification is issued by the Audit Department of the Agriculture Department and is monitored by the Agri Business Division of the Agriculture Department. “Moreover, we have taken our farmers on overseas visits and introduced them to modern farming techniques which enabled them to build their own model farms.Fernando said

“In addition, Cargills Bank has come forward to extend its support to farmers in order to boost Agricultural production by disbursing loans at a concessionary interest rate,” Fernando said.

Moreover, Cargills sources fruits , vegetables and fresh milk directly from a network of over 10,000 farmers, through its collection centres and sends it to its chain of supermarkets.

“We buy over 120,000 tonnes of fresh vegetables and fruits and close to 150,000-160,000 litres of milk on a daily basis. Currently, this project has been extended to 10 selected areas. And we hope to extend this to several other areas in the near future,”Fernando said.

Under this project, Cargills has helped Sri Lankan farmers to obtain high yields with low input with support from Jain Irrigation Systems of India.

“We worked with Jain Irrigation Systems of India to introduce proven practices to reduce manpower and the use of agri-input,” Fernando said.

Cargills organised a farm visit to the Hanguranketha area where the farmers who benefited from the program had the opportunity to share their experiences with Daily News Business.

“ Water scarcity in this area has had a huge impact on our vegetable cultivation. Because of that we used to depend on rain water when it comes to growing vegetables. Due to lack of water resources in this area, we grew vegetables once a year. Now with the Cargills Sarubima project , we have benefited from modern agricultural practices such as drip irrigation and fertigation and now make a better living in a productive and cost effective way. Now we grow vegetables two to three times a year.”

Also, since we have adopted drip irrigation and dedication the application of weedicides, fertilizer and cost of production has dropped drastically. Earlier, we used approximately 200-250 Kg of fertilizer for growing vegetables and now with this modernization project it has reduced to 15-20 Kg, “ farmer W.G. Swarnathilake said.

“We’re happy to be a part of this great initiative. Thanks to Cargills Sarubima project and the knowledge and input provided by Cargills team, we have been able to obtain better yields and higher income.

And with this project, our farmers have been able to improve the quality of the produce.The use of nets and new irrigation and fertilization methods have drastically reduced pre and post-harvest losses.

Farmers now grow vegetables targeting the global export market with their Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification. More importantly, youth in this area have shown keen interest in taking up agriculture under GAP to obtain a better price in the future.” Farmers Nishanthi Sri Nishshanka (44) and Chandrika Kumari Wijethilake (49) said.

Drip irrigation is a key farming technology used under the Cargills Sarubima project and

Drip irrigation is the most efficient water and nutrient delivery system for growing crops. It delivers water and nutrients directly to the plant’s roots zone, in the right amounts, at the right time.

The use of nets is another farming technology used under this project. According to the farmers, the use of nets has helped minimize damage to crops by pests.

In addition to that, plastic mulch is used to retain moisture, suppress growth of weeds and unwanted plants. The use of plastic mulch also improves soil texture,conserves water in crop production and deter some pests.

With the Sarubima Agriculture Modernisation Programme, Cargills makes a responsible commitment to the well-being of the local farming community. And this is a big step towards sustainable agriculture to ensure food safety and contribute to an enhanced national economy.