Home Garden Diversification & Cultivation of Traditional Rice and Local Root & Tuber Crops for Improved Nutrition and Livelihood in Niunhella
Majority of the local cultivars and landraces in Sri Lanka are under-utilized and have been shifted away from use due to the insurgence of commercial crop cultivation.
Indigenous local cultivars are in a vulnerable state and are nearing extinction owing to the introduction of high yielding and short duration varieties of crops. Despite low yield and relatively longer duration, some of the underutilized indigenous cultivars are palatable with notable nutritional value and are tolerant to pests and diseases, as well as being tolerant to drought and natural hazards.
Thereby revitalization of local cultivars and varieties through home gardening and small-holder to medium scale growers is actively addressed by the Biodiversity for Food & Nutrition project in collaboration with the Provincial Department of Agriculture - Sabargamuwa Province.
Home garden establishment and diversification targeting 50 households in the Niunhella project pilot site has been initiated; addressing the micronutrient deficiencies and issues related to dietary diversity of households. Majority of the population in Sri Lanka fulfils its energy primarily from cereals, which does not carter the daily required micro-nutrient content; thereby leading to diets with alarmingly less dietary diversity.
Related workshops and trainings on methods and techniques of home gardening, organic cultivation, and production of compost with creating emphasis on the importance biodiversity for food and nutrition though home garden diversification has been successfully completed. Planting material, home gardening tools & equipment were provided to the 50 households.
Traditional Rice and Local root & tuber crop cultivation has been initiated with selection of 20 small scale farmers in the Niunhella area. Planting material and protection fencing has been disseminated and cultivation has been initiated.
Production of the organic agro-biodiversity products from medium-scale farmers and surplus from home gardens will be introduced into marketing outlets in the future and sold at different trade fairs and other income generating marketing avenues contributing to increasing the livelihood of the community; as well as conservation and sustainable utilization of local agro-biodiversity.