Shangri-La in Sri Lanka
Village-based business offers a sustainable model of agricultural enterprise its residents can be proud of (and profit from). 

May 12, 2005

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Traditional Sri Lankan agriculture is ecological and organic; home gardens are part and parcel of the family culture, and agriculture is indivisible with the village. With the skyrocketing price of synthetic fertilizer, natural systems are compelling the farmer to give up chemical inputs, and home garden and fruit farming systems are becoming helpful to our communities.

We are a village-based fruit farming model set up in the village of Midigama in the southern region of Sri Lanka, with a variety of tropical fruit crops growing under coconut trees. A composting unit is integral to our three-canopy farming system. We practice ecological methods to combat soil erosion, conserve moisture, control pests and diseases, and feed the soil and our crops, and our model is beginning to be emulated by other farmers in our region.

Our business is called Ceylinco Midigama Fruit Farms, Ltd., a name which brings pride to our village. A farm gate processing unit making wet and dry products is the market mechanism we have adopted to sustain the project. This model generates a demand for fruits and growing of fruits, which benefiting the village community. Solid waste from the processing unit is recycled/digested and added back to the soil as compost, thereby upgrading the soil. The diversity of multi-fruit crops increases productivity in smallholdings, and with the resurgence of the ecosystem, the natural enemies of pests—such as birds and reptiles—do the work of pest control without insecticides or chemicals.

This summarizes the Eco Fruit Farming System as a model for traditional villages in the southern region of Sri Lanka. Comments are most welcome.

Michael Vass Gunawardena
Sri Lanka