Friday, February 23, 2024

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Swiss experts to assist SL’s efforts towards organic agriculture

In its continuous efforts to share scientific and practical solutions in enabling a successful conversion from conventional to organic farming, A. Baur & Co. Ltd, recently facilitated a team of organic agri experts from Switzerland who revisited Sri Lanka during early-February.

The team included Prof. Christoph Studer, Professor of Natural Resources Management at the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL), Dr. Jacques G. Fuchs, Senior Scientist in Plant Pathology and Soil Quality and Paul van den Berge, Senior Consultant from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL).

The revisit marks the second phase of the comprehensive study, followed by an in-depth analysis and evaluation completed in August last year when the team was on a 10-day visit conducting preliminary studies including meeting with diverse stakeholders to understand the agri ecosystem.

This time around the purpose was to further study the strategically identified potential areas based on the initial findings.

During their nine-day visit, the experts held discussions with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture to comprehend the Government’s current standing on its green agriculture policy and visited key institutions such as Rice Research & Development Institute (RRDI), Field Crop Research & Development Institute (FCRDI), Farm Mechanization Research Centre (FMRC), University of Peradeniya Faculty of Agriculture Sub Campus in Mahailluppallama as well as Tea Research Institute (TRI) to study their involvement and future initiatives steered towards this direction.

This also included discussions with officials at the Field Crop Research and Development Institute (FCRDI) and academia to explore possibilities of intercropping leguminous crops in between two paddy seasons as a sandwich crop.

The experts visited the Municipality Council of Nuwara Eliya to study the waste management process of outstation cities. The Council members led by the mayor, shared the process and experience on waste management of Nuwara Eliya city.

They also visited the largest vegetables and fruits wholesale market in Dambulla, a leading local dairy producer, a private poultry farm, and composting site in Chilaw to observe and study the availability of raw materials for organic farming input production.

As part of the collaboration of Baurs with FiBL and HAFL, Jacques Kohli who is a graduate from the Bern University of Applied Sciences is working with Baurs as an intern in carrying out a detailed study on the availability of raw materials for organic fertiliser production and their potential uses.

They also met with officials from the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC), Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) and a bio fertiliser manufacturer to understand their stand on governments’ direction and seek possible collaborations, including discussions with policy makers such as Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLSI) and National Plant Quarantine Service.

Further, they also visited Umandawa Global Buddhist Village in Kurunegala and farm fields in Dambulla and Nuwara Eliya and the Idalgashinna organic tea garden to observe and study the agri practices and ecosystem.

The experts conducted training sessions to farmers as a continuation of the trainings in their initial visit to better understand and solve issues faced by farmers in organic farming, and also initiated a knowledge sharing session for senior managers and marketing team of Baurs.

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