Fight to poverty through the development of organic farming in the districts of Ampara and Kandy

Sri Lanka, once known as Ceylon, is an island state located in the Indian Ocean and separated from Southern India by a sea channel known as Palk Straits.
The relations between Tamils and Sinhalese are still troubled following historical events which resulted in subjugation of Tamil culture by the Sinhalese one (in the 50s) causing high resentment among people belonging to the former. Reactions to such events always resulted in hard clashes between the two factions leading, besides many casualties and displaced people, to economic collapse notably in the tourist sector.
Though the primary resource of Sri Lanka is remittance by workers migrated to the Near East and Europe,the economy of the country is still based on agriculture; key crops include tea, rubber, coconuts and spices.
The project promoted long-term sustainable development actions based on support to one of the key sectors of the economy (agriculture). Its integrated approach, supporting the diversification of products (organic rice and vegetable farming, organic husbandry and excellence productions) and market outlets (local, domestic and international markets), also considered the tourism industry as a factor of sustainability in the project strategy for the diversification of income sources for the beneficiary populations.

The objective of the project is to reduce the poverty of vulnerable rural people and ethnic minorities in the districts of Ampara and Kandy, by promoting a development pattern based on support to small organic farmers , integrating organic farming and community-based tourism.

The direct beneficiaries of the project are 1063 households in six villages of the districts of Ampara and Kandy.
The farmers’ families benefitted both from the improvement of technical rice farming skills , and the introduction of home garden cultivated by organic farming techniques to enhance food security, diversification and an improvement in quantity and quality of food (organic products). 42 households benefitted from the introduction of income-generating activities (nurseries and compost production).

Achieved results

The project supported small organic farmers in the 2 target areas by introducing/extending the cultivation and processing of high value-added products to be sold on local and international markets (notably organic rice, spices, cocoa and medicinal herbs; processed food products such as honey, yoghurt, etc.).
The farmers organizations have been trained on various issues related to marketing, a common brand has been created for the different productions and local and international agreements have been signed to sell the products.
In addition, the project promoted the capacity building of the farmers cooperatives, both technical and in organization/management, and the exchange of good practices. 6 village associations have been established and registered with LOAM (Lanka Organic Agriculture Movement).
In the area of sustainable tourism, the project has selected and trained 20 eco-tourism and community-based tourism guides, identified 10 eco-tourist routes and built three structure for welcoming tourists according to the criteria of bio-architecture. In addition, promotional materials have been created and partnership have been establishet with domestic and international operators.