Caritas Sri Lanka encourages small-holder farmers to ameliorate their capacity and attentiveness to be resilient to food insecurity over a decade. Caritas Norway / NORAD-funded Food Security Program is being a pillar of strength for the communities to enhance the self-sufficient family economy at the grassroots level.
Recently the CSL team visited random target locations in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts to monitor the field level impact of the Food Security Program. This was a great occasion to listen to the smallholder farmers’ real viewpoints.
The Food Security Program offers tangible and intangible assistance to the many thousands of small farmers to grow a variety of crops, catch fish, and rear poultry & livestock.
Most of these farmers produce small quantities for sale but the local traders are only prepared to pay low prices for their farm products. As individual farmers, they have little bargaining power with traders/middlemen and must often accept almost any price offered by traders. With the Caritas interventions, selected farmers were given types of training on Marketing and creating marketing linkages with other stakeholders. Different opportunities were created to promote collectivization, direct marketing, farm gate marketing, and co-operate with CBO members or collective marketing.
Through this 4 year program in Sri Lanka, most of the small farmers in Ampalkulam, Ponnagar, Mayavanoor, Mamoolai, Konavil, Vivekananthanagar, and Vellapallam had started adopting collective marketing, collective nursery and receiving the benefit of low production cost and higher prices for their products in Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu. Diocesan partners and a few key farmers are still working hard to share these effective strategies with their fellow farmers of other CBOs to bring it to the impact level.
During these difficult times, Caritas FS Program played a very important role in creating awareness, motivation, assisting farmers in doing organic home gardening / Small & medium -scale integrated farming, Climate-smart Farming, Marketing, Savings, Building group level revolving loan fund (RLF), Rights Claiming, Fish farming, Children awareness & School gardening and Malnutrition awareness among Mothers of pre-school children.
At Present, newly introduced Village Knowledge Centres’ (VKCs) regular interaction with smallholder farmer families has helped to promote these ideas of collectivization among the communities and to simplify the access to information. This strategy would be an eye-opener for the vulnerable communities to share the knowledge among them and to find new updated techniques with the assistance of ICT tools. Nevertheless, communities need considerable time to adapt to these advanced features. As the Food Security Program has laid the foundation for promoting collectivization and organic farming methodologies, farmers are thankful to Caritas Sri Lanka, Caritas Norway & NORAD for the hold-up and continuous facilitation.