At a time when Sri Lanka is moving away from use of chemical fertiliser, there is a great demand for organic fertiliser. The shortage of carbonic fertiliser in the market is causing a great difficulty to the farmers in rural areas of Sri Lanka, as the demand for organic fertiliser – including compost – is at its peak.
Helambawewa village in Anuradhapura district is an agriculture-based village, and it was severely affected by the human-elephant conflict, until an electric fence was erected around the village under the Village and Agricultural Fencing Program implemented by Ecosystem Conservation and Management Project (ESCAMP), under the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Conservation. Though the home garden cultivations were protected by the fence, the villagers were facing a severe hardship due to the lack of organic fertiliser to enrich their crops.
Under this context, ESCAMP provided a chopper machine to the Community Based Organisation (CBO) of Helambawewa with the intension of supporting their agriculture-based livelihoods. With this machine – a local invention – they can chop plant materials up to 1000 Kg to be used as raw material to produce carbonic compost fertiliser. The usual three months taken to produce carbonic fertiliser can be reduced by one month, using this machine as a chopper for the production of required plant materials.
ESCAMP organised a training programme to train 10 nominated CBO mambers, on technical aspects of operating their new chopper machine, on 20 December 2021. The technical training was a great benefit for the machine operators, who are now producing compost for the benefit of the entire village.
ESCAMP’s approach towards solving Sri Lanka’s human-elephant conflict includes providing means for livelihood development in the affected villages. This holistic approach is aimed at supporting villages to co-exist with elephants while promoting alternative means of livelihood that help reduce tensions with wildlife.