Skip to main content

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:

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:

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting, this is on page one (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    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:

    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.

Click here for the mobile view of the site