In September 2012, SLCDF began an environmentally friendly livelihoods project in Moneragala District funded by Canadian NGO, Hope International Development Agency (HIDA). The livelihoods include beekeeping, conservation farming and dairy management for 100 motivated poor in the Buttala Divisional Secretary’s Division.
On the beekeeping activity, appropriate locations were initially identified with the help of Dr. R.W.K. Punchihewa of the University of Ruhuna and the NGO, Wellassa Kantha Sahayogitha Padanama. Fifty nine members (47 F & 12 M) of this NGO received training while seventeen families have already obtained loans as start-up capital and are engaged in beekeeping. By now they have placed forty one bee boxes in their homesteads.
They have been provided with two social mobilization training programmes inclusive of home gardening to twenty five selected members in the identified nine locations. The mobilized participants formed nine CBOs in their locations and started group activities and savings and credit. Fourteen trained women have taken to home gardening. Already they are reaping the harvest of vegetables and fruits for family consumption and each family earning Rs.1,200 – Rs.2,000 monthly through selling the surplus. They also share their produce with the neighbours as well.
Wellassa Kantha Sahayogitha Padanama (WKSP) is one of the NGOs working with marginalised communities in Moneragala district and an active member of the Moneragala District Consortium (DC). During the field visits and discussions with the DC, WKSP and farmer communities in Buttala Divisional Secretary’s Division revealed that the community living in this area has a basic knowledge in beekeeping, conservation farming and dairy management.
In these locations there are so many underutilized natural resources, which with some systematic reorganization can all be put to proper sustainable use. There are some crops which practically every farmer in this region cultivates during the Maha (the major season September – March), with the monsoon rains. They are all rain fed crops and require very little inputs other than simple land preparation. They happen to be some of the best yielders of honey, and glyricidia (as a live fence), which is also an important firewood crop, really a pioneering crop to rejuvenate degraded lands as well, providing plants of green manure. All these factors led to the implementing of the programme in Buttala area.
In this project, kollu, sesame and mustard as some best yielders of honey and in addition cowpea, green gram and groundnuts will also be promoted. Perennials such as coconut, jak, margosa will be planted. Fruit trees such as mango, banana, pomegranate, passion fruit will also figure in the mix of crops. Watermelon which is fetching attractive prices at present will also feature among the planned crops.
Baseline data has been collected. NGO Management Development Centre has conducted the social mobilization training and facilitated the forming of CBOs.