introduction

Agricultural sector in Sri Lanka is the key stone in the economic and social development of the country. Sri Lankan life style is closely associated with the agriculture which has great deal of influence on their culture and economy. As such, government has given the pivotal importance to the agricultural sector in implementing the strategic plans for socio economic development of the rural community and ensuring the food and livelihood security of the nation .

Sri Lanka is a very well-known for its spices since the colonial period. Historical sources show that spice cultivation was the main income source of ancient Sri Lanka too. Presently, Sri Lanka shares the significant portion of the spice market in the world. It produces the best quality cinnamon in the world and dominated 90 % of the market (Sri Lanka budget speech in 2005). Presently, the export market share of the all spices has increased from 1.30% (2004) to 1.86% (2008) showing that the spice industry of Sri Lanka is becoming an important source of foreign exchange generation (Annual Report, 2008; Export Agriculture Department, Kandy, 2009).

Importance of Export agricutlural crops
Significant proportion of the rural population in the upcountry districts of Sri Lanka relies on the export agricultural crops for their livelihood. All spice crops including clove, pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric are considered to be the main export agricultural crops and make considerable impact on the economy of the rural Sri Lankans. Particularly, ginger and turmeric that are cultivated by small to medium scale farmers.Given that these crops produce high yield and have higher marketing prospects, they are considered as high potential export agricultural crops (EAC).

Ginger and turmeric as high potential anual crops
Ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) and turmeric (Curcuma domestica Val.) belong to the family Zingiberaceae and are cultivated as annual rhizomatous crops (Fig 1). They are used as spices, in native / ayurvedic medicine and preparation of beverages. Ginger and turmeric crops require more or less the same climatic and environmental conditions for growth (rainfall: 1500- 2500 mm, temperature 20-30 0C and elevation upto 1500 m -2000 m) and require similar duration for crop maturity. Hence they are found to be cultivated together in the farms. The highest extent of cultivation is recorded in the Kandy Districts (379 Ha) (Fig 2). (Source: Agriculture statistics- Department of Census and Statistics, 2009)

These two crops have considerable market potential as significant proportion of the local demand is still being imported. According to the Sri Lankan customs, in 2009, 594 Mt of value Rs 71 Million of ginger and 4192 Mt of value Rs 543.2 Million of turmeric have been imported to the country. Farm gate price of a kg of ginger varies from Rs 100 – 160 (cost of production is Rs 32 / kg) and turmeric from Rs 50 – 60 (cost of production is Rs 21 / Kg). (Source: Department of Export Agriculture). These profit margins can be increased substantially by producing value added products of ginger and turmeric (dry ginger/ turmeric, ginger preserves, oil/ oleoresins of ginger / turmeric).

Poor living standards of the farmers
Although there is a considerable potential to increase the income from the existing extent of cultivation, many of the farmers involved in the cultivation of EAC have substandard livelihood. The preliminary survey of the project team, particularly on ginger and turmeric farming, identified that lack of necessary knowledge and skills on crop management, processing and marketing as the main reasons for this disadvantaged situation of the farmers. As a result, they have been caught up in the vicious cycle of ‘middleman’ role of market handling depriving them with income and living standards. Ginger and turmeric farmers in the Yatinuwara Divisional Secretary’s area, where this project is focusing on, are no exception to this condition. Hence, there is a significant potential to upgrade the living standards of these farming community by empowering them with necessary knowledge, skills and facilities.

Project implementation
We have chosen Wathurukumbura Grama Seva Niladhari Division in the Yatinuwara Divisional Secretary’s area belongs to Kandy District to implement the pilot scale Lifelong Learning for farmers (L3F) project under the framework of Commonwealth of Learning (COL). The project will primarily focus on the farmers involved with cultivation of ginger and turmeric. There is substantial number of young farmers in this area, involved with ginger and turmeric cultivation, who can be trained to afford Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based Open and Distance Learning (ODL) for their capacity building. Since these farmers are organized into a famers’ society with a wider scope, they can easily be sub grouped into an organization for ginger and turmeric cultivation at their own will during the project implementation. This area has a reputation not only for the considerable concentration of ginger and turmeric farmers but also for high quality planting material of ginger / turmeric.

The main objective of the L3F project of the COL was also to empower the farmers, landless labourers and extension officers by capacity building, through open and distance learning ODL based method using Information and Communication Technology (COL: Generic frame work of the lifelong learning of the farmers, pp 2). Such capacity building will enable them in developing value added farming, encourage more sustainable use of natural resources, strengthen the ability of the farming community to face globalization and ensure food and livelihood security.

This project will be handled exclusively by a project group comprises of a team of academics of the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL), officials of the Department of Export Agriculture (DEA) and the Rural Development Bank. Of the three consortium members, the OUSL and DEA will be the knowledge institutions, while RDB is the financial institution for micro-finance facility. The farming community is the central component of the project consortium. Rural ICT facility (eg. Vidatha or Nanasala) will also be a consortium member of this L3F project.

This perspective plan will address the objectives of the project, role of the stake holders, operational details including learning processes, inputs, outputs and outcomes and their impact. Finally it presents the budget for the planned activities along with action plan for the first six months.

Organisatoin

Specific project aims

Establishment of strong social learning capital

Empowering and mobilization of the farmers

  • Conducting farmer empowering and mobilization programmes
  • Visiting successful farms/farmers to observe and feel the success
  • Positive thinking programmes to alleviate negative attitudes that hinder the success
  • Preparation of time table, identification of milestones to be achieved
  • Adopting ODL based mechanism to keep up the effect of this programme

Facilitating the reflective development of the farmers

  • Identification of incorrect practices in ginger / turmeric farming with the assistance of research and extension officers of the DEA
  • Visiting technical institutes / commercial ventures/outstanding farmers to gain exposure on good crop management and production practices and for knowledge sharing
  • Conducting regular farmer review forums as a new initiative for reflective development
  • Conducting / conveying farmer demanded trainings / information
  • Development of template for farmers for routine agricultural record keeping which will be useful as a knowledge base
  • Development of ODL material based on the outcomes of the above reflective practices from the collective consensus of the research and extension officers and the farmers.

ICT based skill development of the farmers and extension officers

  • Conducting training sessions for farmers and extension officers for both ICT and mobile phone usage for agriculture based activities
  • Basic training will be provided to all farmers involved in the project while a relatively advance training will be provided to the extension officers and learning cluster (LC) coordinators (LCC)*.
  • Development of farmer glossary (to get English terms for Sinhalese and vise versa) to be used in exchanging the information through internet based resources
  • Learning clusters (LC) are formed within the farming society to enhance the coordination with in themselves and between project and farmers. LC will consist of around 8 members who live nearby and be coordinated by cluster appointed coordinator.

This project will start with the growth season of ginger / turmeric cultivation which start in March 2011. Farmers are supposed complete sawing by 30th of April of this year. The crop will be harvested in January 2012. It is expected to implement the project activities in parallel to the activities of the growth season. Firstly, a society will be established by the farmers for the ginger and turmeric cultivations. Then the learning clusters (LC) of around 8 members / families will be formed in this society with a cluster chosen coordinator. Those farmers who lives closed to each other will be cluster together.

Generally, the rural farming community has conventional mind set which harbours several restrictions / limitations against their development. Some of these are based on myths while some are associated with negative attitudes such as envy and selfishness. Most of the farmer families are weak in management of household affairs and economy. These conditions, although not found in some farmers, seriously affect the information sharing skills and reflective development of the farmer community on whole. Dearth of scientific knowledge and training in crop management always leads to poor quantity and quality of the produce that have limited market. Moreover, lack of unity is always leads to less competitive advantage to the farmers in marketing. All these aspects have negatively contributed to the lower living standards of the farmers.

EmpoweringMotivation

Hence this project activity starts with a programme for empowering and mobilizing the farmers, designing of proper empowering and mobilization programme is the first activity of this project. This will be done by the OUSL project group which has expertise in this type of activities. Showing success stories of similar participatory activities will build up confidence on goal accomplishment. Setting goals and milestone to evaluate the success of achievements through the participatory approach will be the key aspect in this process. Getting involvement of external resource persons and conducting regular programmes are important to keep up their spirit of being empowered. Mobile technology can also be used in this purpose; by delivering inspirational quotes and make them aware about the milestone ahead. Farmer incentive programme; offering star rating etc. will also be implemented under this programme. These star rating may be acknowledged in selecting to follow bridged courses at OUSL and getting subsidy from DEA.

Beside the reflective questionnaire and achievement of set milesstone on stipulated time frame, some other parameters like continuous interaction / attendance to farmer meetings, increased awareness on new technology, tendency to share information and high crop quality can also be used as the indicators of being empowered. These activities are crucial for the overall success of the project.

ReflectiveDevelopment

Opportunity to reflective development is essential for sustainable and independent development of the farming community. Identification of incorrect farming practices by research and field officers of the DEA and recommending corrective measure are important in this aspect. However, this does not undermine the knowledge that have been accumulated through the experience of the farmers. Field visit to outstanding farms and demonstrations to learn about good cultivation practices and institutes for post harvest processing etc. will be done under this programme. Farming community gets the opportunity to get exposed to the correct farming practices by visiting demonstrations etc. These corrective measures will eventually be recorded and made into the ODL format for continuous usage of farmers. One of the novel features to be implemented in this project will be the introduction of template for farmer record keeping and conducting farmer review forums biannually to share the experience of farming. Farmers are expected to make presentation to the audience comprise of farmers, extension / research officers under this programme. This allows farmers not only to share information and experience but also to establish a sustainable cultivation system suitable to the area. ODL document can then be prepared based on these outcomes.

ICTtraining

The most suitable mode of delivering ODL material is using ICT. In the phase 1, famers will get a general IT training at the Kandy Regional Center of the OUSL on word processing, the internet and email usage. They will also be given training on the effective use of mobile phones. Extension officers and learning cluster coordinators will be given a higher level of ICT training. The outcomes of these courses will be evaluated by a questionnaire and routine monitoring of communication with LCC and project / extension officers through email. The project team, together with OUSL and DEA will start preparation of farmer glossary for internet usage to alleviate the language barrier as far as possible.

Management

In parallel with the above trainings, the farmers will be given training on the domestic and agriculture related affairs management, account keeping and entrepreneurship skill development. Special programme will be conducted for housewives for domestic economy management. Identification of resource persons and designing of this programme will be done by the OUSL and RDB. Demands of the farmers on other training and knowledge developments will also be addressed under this activity. It is anticipated that farmers will be able to identify what aspects of their lifestyle to be economized and how to maximize the profit. Development of business proposals will also be another assessable outcome.

ODLMatter

ODL material development to facilitate knowledge acquisition is the primary aspect of this project. Available technical material of the DEA will be converted to ODL format and at the same time content of the farmer trainings conducted along the growth season will also be made available through a multimedia source from next year onwards. Frequently asked questions will also be incorporated. ODL material will be prepared in the print format first and then, will make into the electronic / online formats and place in the OUSL server. Link will be provided on both OUSL-COL L3F website and DEA website. Providing incentives for the usage of ODL material and evaluation of these ODL materials need to be done through a suitable methodology. In addition to the traditional methods of evaluation, mobile technology is also planned to use in this process.

Apart from reading ODL material on ginger and turmeric cultivation, a short course on ‘Export Agricultural Crop Management’ will be introduced to the farmers, not only to expand their knowledge but also to accrue formal educational qualification in this field. This will be done by the DEA in collaboration with OUSL. DEA and OUSL will design the course content. Development of the course is on the OUSL‘s purview. Course content developer and coordinator have to be appointed.

While the above capacity building programmes are underway, the production and productivity improvement for ginger and turmeric will be implemented in complementary basis.

ExpandingProduction

New farmers who are willing to join the ginger and turmeric farming needs to be selected based on the suitability of their lands. This land selection will be done by the DEA. After collecting basic information of the farmers, they will be introduced to the RDB, if loan facility is required. RDB will make necessary arrangements for forward sales agreement, whenever necessary. Farmers will be advised to agree upon for a quantity not exceeding 75% of their expected crop for forward sales agreement. This is to facilitate farmers to test other marketing options. DEA will make arrangement to evaluate the land preparation and provide good planting materials. DEA will also organize and conduct the necessary trainings meantime. The ODL material development will be carried out simultaneously. The project team is also looking forward to create a revolving fund to strengthen the farmer society. A capital of Rs 20,000.00 can be provided to the farmer society in terms of seed ginger. Adding the government subsidy of Rs 60/ kg the farmer society will have capital fund of Rs 30000/- [RS 20000.00 + (166 Kg-Rs 60.00) given that the price of seed ginger is Rs 180.00]. Farmers can pay back this to the society in terms of either cash or seed ginger with a small interest.

Productivity improvement plan will be discussed by the consortium members and then introduced to the farmers. This includes plant nutrition management, growth optimization, field sanitation, pest and disease management that are crucial for productivity. Identification of means to economize the steps of cultivation without compromising the quality will also be done in this phase so that they can be introduced in subsequent years. Routine field visit by the DEA and OUSL is imperative to identify issues during the first phase of the project. Prompt action plan for farmer request will also be implemented with the involvement of learning cluster coordinators.

Workshop on eco-friendly farming system that use biological control of pest and disease management and organic fertilizers will also be carried out in the first year of the project. It is expected to introduce / promote biodynamic farming practices to/of the farmers. It is anticipated that farmers will adopt these practices in the following year onwards.

PostHarvest

Identification and implementation of necessary post harvest processing techniques is essential not only in developing crop for niche markets but also to get higher income. Identification of potential markets and providing trainings for specific product development accordingly will be arranged by the consortium members. Resource persons may be invited from the companies that buy ginger / turmeric to conduct specific training for farmers. A mechanism needs to be adopted to provide machinery for the post harvest processing. DEA will look into the technical help while RDB will look into the economical aspect of post harvest processing. Development of ODL training material on post harvest processing will be done by OUSL in collaboration with DEA.

Consequently farmers will be introduced to ornamental product / souvenir development using spice products targeting the tourists. Such products which are already in the market will be shown and training will be provided under this scheme.

MaxLanduse

Knowledge and skills on maximum usage of land while minimizing the damage to the ecosystem are important to establish a sustainable cropping system. Erosion prone land will be identified and encourage farmers to adopt mitigation measures. Available CD s on erosion control will be used in addition to hand on training sessions. Effective utilization of drainage and use of biological control methods of pest and disease management will be promoted under this activity. Identification of other crops (medicinal / fruit plants for instance) that can be introduced to home gardens of the farmers is another aspect that consider in this programme.

There are several ginger varieties in Sri Lanka and, of those Rangun and Sri Lankan variety have relatively high demand at present. There are certain variation exist among these varieties but no study has yet been recorded on them. A study to identify these varieties and evaluation of them for specific agronomical characteristic or taste or similar property with high market prospect will open up new avenues of income generation. For instance, such study may leads to identify new cultivars with disease resistance. It is required to make a field survey to identify these varieties and then screen for desirable properties. Development of a propagation technique, to produce true-to-type plants is also an important aspect under this activity.

Following action plan will describe the specific project activities under each aim along with measurable outcome. Responsibility for each project action needs to be updated as the project progress.

Activity

Time table

2011

2012

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Formation of farmer society and learning clusters

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conducting series of lecturers and discussions (5 nos) on positive thinking , motivation for the farming community

 

X

X

X

 

X

X

 

 

Farmers will visit successful farms and demonstrations identified by the DEA

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

SMS campaign with inspirational quotes & milestone achievement

 

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

Identification of incorrect practices in ginger and turmeric farming with the assistance of research and extension officers

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farmers will visit good ginger and turmeric farms

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

Farmers will visit to observe the ginger processing in the research centre

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Developing star rating scheme and start offering stars to farmers

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conducting regular farmer review forums on the ginger and turmeric crop production and post harvest processing

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

Conducting farmer demanded trainings on EA crops

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing farmer journal (dairy) and motivating them to use it.

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conducting 2 day training sessions to farmers and extension officers for both ICT and mobile phone usage for agriculture based activities

 

 

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

Development of farmer glossary (to get English terms for Sinhalese) to be used in internet browsing

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training and workshops on domestic and agriculture related financial affairs management

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training and workshops on Entrepreneurship skill development

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

Special programme of house hold management and food nutrition for wives of the farmers

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

Development of multimedia resource on cultivation of ginger, post harvest processing and marketing

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

Development of multimedia resource on cultivation of turmeric , post harvest processing and marketing

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

Website linked to both DEA and OUSL on ginger / turmeric farming

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

Design and develop print base ODL material on ginger and turmeric cultivation covering the aspects of crop cultivation, disease and pest management, post harvest processing, marketing and business development

X

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

ODL training material on production of ornamentals and souvenirs from EAC crops

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Certification of learning

 

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

Training sessions and material for optimizing the productivity of the ginger / turmeric farms

X

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

Establishment of mechanisms to inspect / respond to farmers request

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workshop on eco-friendly farming practices

 

 

X

 

 

X

 

 

 

Farmers join agri-insurance scheme

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Improve knowledge and skills of farmers on post harvest processing of ginger and turmeric

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

Training workshops for market oriented ginger and turmeric processing

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Facilitating farmer society to acquire machine for ginger peeling and slicing

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Training session for ornamental product / souvenir development using EA crops in the area

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

field collection of different ginger cultivars which survives the infected plots and screening them for resistance

 

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

Introduction and implementation of soil erosion control methods suitable for slops

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

CD on control of soil erosion and degradation will be made available to farmers

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conduct workshop / training on the usage of biological control measures of pests and diseases

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

Promotion of organic fertilizer usage

X

X

 

 

X

 

 

 

Motivate farmers to diversify crops to make maximum use of the land

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

The project is planned with the objective to increase the production capacity of the ginger and turmeric farmers while persuading them to make maximum use of non-performing assets.

The preliminary survey revealed that most of the farmers get lower yield (50 %) than the standard yields due to poor management of ginger and turmeric cultivation, prevalence of bacterial diseases and use of unsuitable lands with poor drainage etc. Besides farmers’ poor capacity, high rainfall prevailed over the last few months may also have contributed for this low yield. Only one of the famers involved with marketing dried ginger and turmeric products and rest of all sell raw ginger and turmeric at the open market thus depriving the advantage of post harvest processing. Preliminary survey further indicated that most of them (60 %) have CD players at their home, 80% have mobile phones and 10% with PCs. 70 % of the farmers (none said no) have directly expressed their willingness to get training on ICT. There is a significant proportion (>70 %) of young farmers in the community. All these basic parameters of the community indicates that there is a very high potential to upgrade the living standards of the community by building their capacity to achieve at least the standard yields and practicing simple post harvest processing.

 

Activity

Ginger (Rs/ Acre)

Turmeric (Rs/ Acre)

Basic tools

1000

1000

Basic land preparation

6000

3000

Seeds

60000

40500

Chemical for seed treatment

920

750

Mulching material

3000

3000

Dolomite

1200

1200

Organic manure

20000

20000

Fertilizer

9020

12000

Agro chemicals

2000

 

Transport and other

5000

1000

Total material cost

108140

82454

Cost for man hours

86000

86000

Total

194140

168450

Yield (kg/acres)

6000

8000

Gross Benefit (100/kg ginger; 35/kg turmeric) Rs/Acre

600,000

280,000

Net benefit (Rs/Acre)

405,859

111,540

Cost production (Rs/kg)

32.35

21.05

(Source; Department of Export Agriculture)

If farmers produce good quality yams of ginger and turmeric that can be used as seed material, the market price would be Rs 160/kg and 60/kg for ginger and turmeric respectively. This will increase the net benefits to Rs 765860/acre of ginger and Rs 311550/acre of turmeric. In addition, farmers can reduce the cost of organic manure (Rs 20000/acre) by producing their own to increase the profit margins. Value addition and selling at retail market will further increase the profit margin of the product. It is expected that at the end of the first year, farmers will increase their present income by at least 30 %.

Outcome

At the End of First Six Month

    • Formation of farmer organization and conducting at least one farmer meeting per month
    • Significant increase in number of applications for ginger and turmeric cultivation than previous year
    • Reflective write up and questionnaire on visiting farmer demonstrations and good farmers
    • Delivery of 2 SMS per week with inspirational quotes and feedback on achieving milestones
    • Farmer trainings and workshops on
    • Land preparation, planting and selection of good planting material
    • Use of biodynamic farming concepts
    • Field sanitation and pest/disease management
    • Domestic and agricultural related financial affairs management
    • More than 50% of the farmers use farmer journal to keep routine records on farming
    • Preliminary version of the website on COL-L3F will be launched
    • Distribute 50 CDs on soil erosion control and feedback from farmers
    • Significant proportion of the farmers(including all those get bank loans) joins to agri-insurance scheme

    At the End of First Year

      • Significant proportion of farmers use ICT based technology (email in particular) for communication among themselves or with external agencies on agricultural related information
      • Farmer feedback on the ‘Farmer Glossary for Internet’
      • Conduct 2 review forums and make a publication on the proceedings
      • All farmers have learned about the value of soil conservation and implement measures for soil conservation
      • Self sufficient in organic fertilizer requirement
      • At least 50% of the farmers use post harvest processing
      • 30% increase in farmer income
      • 50% of the produce qualify to sell as seed material for the next crop season
      • Development of ODL print material on cultivation, post harvest processing marketing ginger and turmeric cultivation
      • ODL material on management of family nutrition and household economy to housewives

    At the End of Second Year

      • Establish a good communication pathway to communicate the agricultural related information within the community
      • 3 nos of CDs covering the aspects on on ginger turmeric cultivation, marketing, soil conservation, biodynamic farming etc
      • 50% increase in productivity of all farmers and 100% increase in farmer income of the more than 50% of the farmers
      • At least 15% of the farmers in the society acquire certificate from OUSL
      • Identification of bacterial resistant ginger cultivar

Type of consortium

Institution

Project team members

 

 

 

 

  Knowledge Institutes

The Open University of Sri Lanka

  Dr Prasad Senadheera

        Lecturer in Botany (Project Coordinator)  

   Dr Jayanthe Waththawidanage

Senior Lecturer in Zoology 

    Ms Geetha Kulasekara

Lecturer in Educational Technology

    Ms Pradeepa Perera

 Lecturer in Botany

Department of Export Agriculture

  Dr A Senevirathne

Director

  Mrs Yoga Kulasekara

       Assistant director  

 Mr Dasanayake

      Extension officer

SGS (Lanka) Ltd

  Mr Deshapriya Liyanage

Manager

   Financial Institute

Regional Development Bank

 Mr Deepthi Mahanama

Senior Manager / Credit recoveries

  Farming Community

Farmers’ organization

 Yatinuwara Export Agriculture crop  producers’  association

  Mr LS Karunadhipathi (President)

  Mr Ranbanda Herath (Secretary)

  Voluntary member    Sakunthala Bandara