Closing ceremony of the sub project ‘Establishment of small holder growers for root and tuber crops and hme garden diversification for improved nutrition and livelihood in Aranayake area together with Community Development Center, Aranayake

Establishment of small holder growers for root and tuber crops and home garden diversification for improved nutrition and livelihood in Aranayake by Community Development center (CDC) and Biodiversity for Food and nutrition (BFN) project successfully completed within the time frame.

Closing ceremony was held at Community Development Center Aranayake on 31st August 2018 with the participation of farmer groups and officers from CDC and BFN project. Best farmer, Best farmer group were selected where all farmers felicitated with gifts to praise their hard work. Project was established aiming to promote local traditional yams in home gardens, improving utilization in diets for better nutrition, creating value chain and marketing platform for value added products developed and disseminating the knowledge generated towards a wider community while maintaining the sub project sustainably as a programme within the area.

Within a year of sub project duration, CDC has achieved a lot as an organization based among the rural community in Aranayake area. 70 families were selected for the yams cultivation and subsequent home garden diversification. Workshops and programmes have been conducted together with Department of agriculture on organic cultivation tactics, soil conservation methods, organic manure preparation, community based seed bank development and management of home gardens in a sustainable manner.

CDC has also initiated women empowerment by selecting female farmers as community leaders by continuous assessment and monitoring of the work that has been initiated and carried out. Farmers were supplied with inputs as high quality planting materials, equipments, pest controlling fences to maintain their
cultivations properly. Community awareness was also done by giving practical exposure to the villagers through the model garden established at the CDC. To improve the income generation among the households CDC has initiated maintaining income expenditure sheet to monitor their income through the community leaders monthly. Sustainable production has been supported by the establishment of “Poshana Mandapaya” a dedicated marketing outlet for local crops including yams and value added products. CDC has uplifted the farmers by supporting them to find a market for their products. Farmer groups sell their products in village fairs, exhibitions, hospitals and schools, good market promoting local yams among a wider community. Value added product generation is the next step of CDC utilizing farmers harvest effectively. The products contain bites, chips, snacks and porridge creating a good demand. These products have now travelled towards good market and some of the super market chains.

Through all the activities above with the support of BFN project, CDC has been able to generate strong farmer groups to protect conserve and maintain the sustainability of local yams. Without terminating from that point CDC has published three booklets named Indigenous Root and tuber crops for improved nutrition and well being, Training module on cultivation of local yams, recipe book on dishes prepared using local yams to promote the value of local yams towards local and international community.

CDC in promoting local agro biodiversity through traditional yams is one such success story of the BFN project in mainstreaming agro biodiversity and its sustainable use.