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1. Community project to enhance the living standard of farmer families in Mahavilachchiya, Providing the basic requirements to irrigate the farming lands.
With the support of a funding organization, the intended project wishes to provide some selected hard working farmer families of the area with one of the following basic agricultural needs of their choice.
• An Agricultural Well
• A water Pump
So that they will be well off to continue farming as a lucrative means of living.
This project is intended to benefit the sixty selected families in such a way that they will be able to continue cultivation of crops through out the year without any obstacle making their economy sound and hence improving their living standards
The selected farmers on receiving the aids will form a society (a farmer’s guild) and work as a unit under the guidance of the project leader. The society will work according to its constitution to ensure the maximum and effective utilization of the funds to fulfill the intended objectives. Initially depending on the choice of the family they will be made to identify the their choice as to what they are going to use the funds for whether it is the construction of the well or buying the water pump depending on their need. Some farmers already have wells and some lands have canals near by from which they can access water. In that case they will be asked to buy the water pump. If the well is a priority for some family they will in consultation with the project leader decide on the construction of the well. The farmers who undertake to build the well should finish construction of the well within two months after receiving funds. The society will get the services of a construction company under a concessionary rate to build the wells so that they will have uniformity in time line. On completion of the either one of these requirements or both in some cases (This will be decided by the project leader in consultation with the mediatory organization) the respective families should within six month time start cultivating in an area not les than one acre, a crop of their choice approved by the society. And on harvesting each beneficiary family should deposit 500 rupees per month in the society’s sustainability fund. And the cultivation should continue round the year with the rotation of crops to ensure better harvest. Further, with the lapse of the first year the dependent children in all the beneficiary families should start a bank account in one of the banks in the area and an amount not less than 100 rupees should be deposited by the family and every month and at the monthly meeting these books should be checked by the authoritative committee which will consists of the project leader and the president, the secretary of the farmers guild and a representative of the Horizon Lanka e-Farmers Project.
At the end of the first year each of the beneficiary families should have cultivated in not less than one acre in extent, a crop of their choice approved by the guild.
Each of the beneficiary families should at the end of the year have one of the two requirements (the Farming well or the Water pump) or both in some cases.
At the end of the first year each of the dependent children should have started a savings account in some bank of the area with the minimum balance of 1000 rupees.
The project is expected to have improved the living standard of the beneficiary families.
Funds will be provided for each selected family for the water pump and the construction of the farming well as decided by the authoritative committee. In some cases some families might get both of these requirements upon the approval of the committee. After the initial cost, the funds will freeze and the farmer’s guild will maintain a fund called Project Maintenance Fund which will come in to effect after six months of the launch of the project. This is a kind of consolidated fund maintained by the beneficiary farmers with an obligatory monthly contribution of 1000 rupees. Funds from this consolidated fund will be utilized for a members’ only loan scheme for members of the farmers’ guild on an interest rate so decided by the farmers’ guild. Through this project is expected to have accumulated in the consolidated fund a sum of rupees 360,000.This can swell further with the commencement of the small scale loan scheme (suggested in the project) for farming matters or otherwise as decided by the framers’ guild.
This project is designed bearing in mind that the main occupation of the people of Mahavilachchiya is cultivation of crops like paddy, vegetables, chilies and other cereals like peas and ground nuts. However Mahavilachchiya being a village in the dry zone experiences rain during one time of the year only. Hence, the farmers in the area face the problem of not having enough water for their cultivation during the dry season of the year.
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However, it is a fact that the soil of the area is fertile and the crops can be grown through the year and the rotation of crops will bring about an increased yield of crops if the water supply is made constant by some means or the other. Further, if a large farming well can be dug there will be water through out the year. If the water from these wells can be lifted in someway and carried to the land around, each of these farmers can grow constantly one crop or the other in an area of approximately one acre which is more than sufficient to make the living standard of these families sound and economically sustainable.
Some of the long-term goals of e-Farmers are:
1. Importing hybrid/high quality seeds
2. Producing own seeds
3. Owning a pilot farm for produce seeds and conduct research on seeds (with the help of universities in Sri Lanka and institutions abroad)
4. introducing low cost drip irrigation systems
5. Introducing alternative energy sources (solar water heater, solar dryer, bio-gas, wind energy, solar electricity etc.)
6. Having own system to transport produce to the main Farmers’ Produce Exchange Centre in Dambulla
7. Establishing direct business links with the main buyers at Dambulla and Colombo Manning Market
8. Opening a sales outlet in Anuradhapura
9. Opening a milk collection Centre
10. Establishing a cashew processing center equipped with modern machinery
11. Establishing yoghurt/buffalo curd manufacturing center
12. Establishing food preservation unit
Opportunities and facilities provided by modern electronic devices and other such technology such as the computer will be used to their full potential. They will be used in the following areas:
1. Updates to the web of Day to day Dambulla/Anuradhapura/Manning Market prices
2. Database for the farmers
3. Database for the suppliers
4. Useful web links
5. Garden/Farm design using 3-D software
6. Direct communication with the wholesale buyers
7. Communication with similar projects in the world
8. Showing the farmers good movies, lessons about farming with a multimedia projector
Focus of Interest
The focus of primary interest of the project is farm produce. The categories listed below are examples of items that can be produced and marketed:
Vegetables (tibbatu, thalana batu, brinjal, green pepper, sweet pepper, beet, knol khol, pumpkin, kekiri, bitter gourd, snake gourd, weta kolu, ash plantain, gherkin, cucumber, etc.)
Greens (mukunuwenna, kathurumurunga, thampala, gotu kola, sarana, anguna kola etc.)
Fruits (papaya, mango, wood apple, beli, banana etc.)
Pulses (cow pea, mung bean, soya etc.)
Yams (sweet potato, manioc, gahala etc.)
Honey (bee honey, coconut treacle etc.)
Nuts (cashew, peanut)
Spices (dried chilly, pepper)
Value added products (powdered spices, chilly powder etc.)
Snacks (Roasted cashew, peanuts)
Canned products (lime pickle, jam)
Education and Incentive Schemes
Following the completion of the initial training programs that are essential to launch the scheme, the farmers will have the opportunity to be involved in a variety of further education activities. These would include:
1. On-site seminars conducted by invited experts;
2. Field trips to established agriculture training centres (E.g. Gannoruwa, Kundasale, Mahailluppallama, etc.);
3. Establishing links with students of the Faculties of Agriculture of University of Peradeniya and University of Ruhuna, and at reputed government agriculture field officer training institutions;
4. Instituting a Best Farmer Reward program;
5. Offering discounts to membership holders (for seeds, renting equipment etc.)
6. Gradually shifting farming methods to organic farming;
7. Establishing a scholarship program using operating profit.
Following the exposure to the opportunities and facilities provided by modern technology and on reaching the basic level of competence expected, the farmers will engage in farming activities of their choice. ICT training will be supplemented with relevant education in agriculture. It is worth emphasizing that the individual farmers will have the option to select the area and the manner in which the newly-gained knowledge is utilized. The market for the produce, too, will be found by the farmers themselves, with guidance offered by the management of the project.
Farmers who join the project by paying the annual membership fee will be registered as authorized suppliers to and beneficiaries from the project.
The project will buy high quality/high yield seeds directly from the importers at wholesale prices before the season. This would eliminate the dependence of the farmer on the middleman who traditionally has been a key factor determining the retail prices of the essential requirements.
Methods will be introduced so that the produce can be harvested, packaged, and transported without damage.
Direct business links with the supermarkets will be established to ensure delivery of the produce to the consumer with minimum delay.
A scheme will be implemented for the rental of farm equipment such as sprayer, two wheeled tractor and other necessary tools. Introducing drip irrigation and crop rotation will be explored for possible implementation. An additional area that will receive attention is the manufacture of gardening tools within the village for use in the village itself and for the wider market.
The project expects individuals or funding organizations to finance the project initially. The benefactors are expected to sponsor a farmer or a group of farmers to improve the basic infrastructure for the potential farmers. The identified basic needs are farming wells, water pumps, pipes and fences around the farming lands. Farmers own their own land in the village but a proper fence is needed in most cases.
Once the project is well established, in the long run, the project expects to provide farmers loans at minimal interest, which will be much lower than rates levied by the established financial institutions. The farmers will be bound by the terms of grant and the articles of the project to settle the loans on collection of harvest.