Re-generative agriculture farmers in Uva felicitated

Re-generative agriculture farmers in Uva felicitated

Felicitation of 100 farmers of the Uva Province engaged in preserving
and promotion of indigenous rice varieties was held in Badalkumbura,
Katugahagalge village community centre recently.

The chief guest was Minister of Irrigation, Highways, Co-operative
and Consumer Affairs of Uva Provincial Council Kumarasiri Ratnayake. He
said that according to the Mahinda Chinthana policy of the government,
is to promote true local farmers, seeds and farmers’ traditions. He
said, in the recent past, all of us came to know that the number of
patients with kidney ailments, diabetes, cancer, cholesterol, heart and
pressure have increased. The Health Ministry has to spend millions of
rupees to treat these patients. In my thinking, there are two main
reasons for the said causes, firstly the food habits, poisoned food what
we eat, and the polluted water that we drink.

Rice varieties

Nowadays agriculture scientists, medical practitioners and food
technologists say our traditional rice varieties, such as suwandal,
heenati, do have medicinal values. When it comes to grains, Kurakkan,
Meneri, Greengram, Kollu are highly nutritious. That is what our
grandmothers fed us in villages in Monaragala or Hambantota.

Uva Provincial Council Irrigation Minister Kumarasiri
Ratnayake presenting awards to resource farmers

Seed exhibition

Lately our young generation has been brought up with white zero value
American flour. On top of that the use of instant bakery products has
helped to increase, diabetes among schoolchildren. Not only the
nutritional aspects, economic poverty also resulted because of these bad

Under the Mahinda Chinthana concept one million Home Garden Economic
units will be established to establish alternative solutions to the
above problems in a sustainable manner.

CEO of Future in Our Hands and Programme and Director of Uva Farmers
Collective of Poison Free Agriculture (UFCPFA) G A Prabath Kumara said
the month of March 2011 is vitally important from many view points.
Firstly we celebrate International Women’s Day. Women are the core issue
of agriculture according to Sri Lankan culture. Women are part and
parcel of Sri Lanka’s agriculture. In both paddy and chena cultivation
women nurture the seeds.

Secondly President Mahinda Rajapaksa initiated the one million
household economic units on March 12. In my thinking, he was able to
feel the pulse of the common man. Furthermore, the President was able to
tackle, not only the economic factor but the nutritional health factor

Economic units

The Pesticide Action Network in Asia Pacific (PANAP), networking
throughout the world in promoting and protecting our rice. In Sri Lanka,
the UFCPFA is proud to have joined the above campaign in order to save
our rice from hybrid rice products and multinational companies.

The stand of the Uva Farmers Collective of Poison Free Agiculture (UFCPFA)
is that the President and Ministry of Economic Development should take
further progressive steps by way of announcing that each and every seed
variety should not be hybrid.

Farmers should use only compost as fertilizer and not hazardous
chemicals for farming. If we are able to address this problem it will be
the answer for ecological economics too. Thereby it will help make the
President’s dream of Sri Lanka becoming the Wonder of Asia a reality.

Manager Movement for National Land and Agriculture Reforms (MONLAR) K
Sunil Shantha said, during the last 30 years, MONLAR had been engaged in
advocating policies on land reform in the villages and plantations.

Therefore, every government should treat for farmers or fishermen as
the centre of the land rights. That is why we support the land issue in
Panama and the fisherman’s issue in Negombo, without hesitation.Farmers,
fisherfolk and plantation workers should collectively fight for their
land rights.

Conduct research

MONLAR is happy to support the Uva Farmers Network which promotes to
regenerate agriculture and promotion of indigenous knowledge in farming.

Ex – Deputy Director of Mahailluppallama Agriculture Research Centre
and present freelance consultant Dr P B Dharmasena said in 2008 I was
asked to conduct research on farmers’ wisdom in the Monaragala District
Versus climate mitigation. I had the opportunity to interact with
90-farmers for three cultivation seasons.

Poverty of peasant communities is not only due to lack of resources
but also due to lack of using their traditional knowledge and endogenous
skills to utilize available resources efficiently for their wellbeing.
The Future in Our Hand Development Fund is an organization established
in 1986 and work with people to develop their capabilities. It enables
them to be active in a self-reliant and sustainable development process.

At prese nt, the FIOH is operational as a leading resource
organization in the Uva Province. It has also been actively engaged in
documentation and conducting research on indigenous practices in the
agriculture and health sector since 1999. The organization has
investigated the ritual, astrological and spiritual aspects of
traditional agriculture. Up to now we have documented traditional rice
farming, indigenous food practices, indigenous home remedies and ethno
veterinary practices in the Uva Province.

The wish of the FIOH is to see the peasant communities living a
prosperous and harmonious life in an environmentally friendly and
sustainable atmosphere.

Sri Lanka’s farming systems particularly rice, other field crops and
home gardening have evolved over thousands of years. This includes a
rich array of farming systems and cultivated plants such as rice,
grains, vegetables, fruits, spices etc. and livestock. New crop
varieties emerged formally and informally. In addition, many farmers
have selected local landraces. The long history of cultivation, presence
of cultural diversity and wide range of ecological landscape situations
have resulted in a wide variety of farming practices in Sri Lanka.

As rice farming is not an overnight wonder, it has evolved while
facing challenges imposed by the nature in form of drought, floods,
cyclones, epidemics etc. Thus, the skills of farming developed include
various types of best practices, which could be adopted even within the
present arena of rice cultivation.

The writer is a civil activist and environmentalist


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