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Agriculture has long been the bedrock of Sri Lankan society, but environmentalists say that modern farming methods, which use pesticides and other chemicals, harm consumers’ health and the environment. Farmers are reverting to traditional methods used by ancient farmers to eliminate these risks.

Read more: http://www.globalpressinstitute.org/...

by Wasantha Ilanganthilake     Reporter, Wednesday - May 11, 2011

UKUWELA, CENTRAL PROVINCE, SRI LANKA – Thilak Kandegama, a local environmentalist, manages the Kandyan Forest Garden, a natural farm in Ukuwela, a village in Sri Lanka’s Central Province.

Kandegama started this 12-acre farm in 2009 with the goal of creating an environmentally friendly farming system. He says that crops should be cultivated in a way that protects the environmental balance in Sri Lanka, a country rich in biodiversity.

At his farm, Kandegama says he uses the ancient “chena” cultivation methods, a simple two-stage process in which land is slashed and burned and then seeds that require minimal tending are planted in the nutrient-rich soil. He cultivates mixed crops, such as vegetables, flowers, paddy, coconut and fruit without using any chemicals. Read more: http://www.globalpressinstitute.org/...

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Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting, this is on page one (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan
    He cultivates mixed crops, such as vegetables, flowers, paddy, coconut and fruit without using any chemicals.

    But by the time you get to page 4, the story changes a tad:

    I add manure to the field. I add hay, cow dung, nattasooriya [and] erabadusooriya leaves and so on and trample well. Then I let it be there for about three days. Then I plough the field with buffalos.”

     After, he plants the paddy seed and adds a mix of kekuna oil, mee oil and cow dung

    Hmm, sounds like chemicals are involved after all:

    . . . ancient farmers planted pawpaw trees because they believed that a chemical in them damaged the tissues in rats’ mouths, deterring them from eating their crops. In another ancient method, farmers spread sand and scraped coconut in the fields to control bugs and boiled milk in the field to destroy brown hoppers, a rice pest. Farmers using the chena cultivation method also burned the soil and added pila leaves to destroy bacteria and reduce acid
    •  huh? (0+ / 0-)

      how do tree leaves and plant oils constitute "chemicals" on the order of modern pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers and "agrochemicals" (mentioned on p.2)?

      I thrashed around a bit on-line and I think, maybe, "nattasooriya" is acacia tree leaves; "erabadusooriya" is coral tree leaves, "mee oil" is palm oil, and I couldn't pin down the "kekuna" oil, but it's definitely from a plant from East Africa or SE Asia.

      as for there being a "chemical" in pawpaw trees, well, yeah.  most plants contain "chemicals".

      searched "chena agrgiculture" on-line and unfortunately it is indeed a slash-and-burn method.  good for a limited number of crops AND isn't practical if population is very high.  

      On the other hand, perhaps a balance is possible, since apparently this method has been in some use on this small island for a LONG time.  Google images aren't great but show a heck of a lot more forest cover remaining than, say, Madagascar...

      "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

      by chimene on Wed May 11, 2011 at 06:56:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  No more environmentally friendly than other method (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan

    I'm not saying this method is bad, but all methods have postive attributes and draw backs.  

    We all need to be much more informed about what these articles mean.

    For example, the method described here is the same slash and burn method that is destroying the Brazilian rainforest, and that led to massive air pollution in Indonesia.

    Notice that this is a "forest garden."  That means that this method is a form of deforestation.  It is used by the first wave of farming settlers into a forest, and captures the nutrients in the trees to fertilize the soil.  But it's not very sustainable unless the community has enough land for it to rotate through leaving recently farmed land fallow for so long that it returns to bush or secondary forest (ie like 10 years).

    The air pollution issues from slash and burn are considerable -- not just the release of carbon (which happens anyway even if the wood slowly decays rather than is burned) but the massive amounts of particulate matter because the fires are not very hot.

    This is a good method to use in some places in some circumstances, but it is hardly some sort of breakthrough and isn't applicable in many places, such as where population density is high and there is a desire to protect forests.

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