In Sri Lanka, agriculture is dominated by smallholders. More than 1.8 million families are engaged in agriculture and 64 percent of farmers cultivate less than 0.5 hectares. In the poor communities where Sevalanka works, many families are dependent on small-scale rain-fed agriculture for a majority of their income.
Changing weather patterns and globalization have increased their vulnerability over the past 20 years. Global climate change and local deforestation are disrupting traditional rainfall patterns and contributing to droughts, floods, erosion and crop loss. At the same time, farmers are far more dependent on external markets and externally purchased inputs than they were in the past. Farmers are caught in the 'scissors' of rising input costs and falling farmgate prices. In most areas, real net incomes from agriculture have stagnated or steadily declined. Productive capacity has also been affected. There is growing evidence of the impact high-input agriculture is having on soil fertility, water quality, beneficial insect populations and human health.
Trade monopolies also restrict agricultural livelihoods. Production is seasonal, and most farmers in a geographical area produce the same crops. At harvest time, regional prices are low, but farmers are forced to sell their harvest because they lack storage facilities and they need cash immediately for consumption and loan repayment. Most of the value of rural production is captured by a relatively small group of traders with strong political ties and access to storage, processing, transport, and retail facilities.
Examples of our agriculture support services include:
Helping disaster-affected agricultural communities repair and replace damaged equipment and infrastructure
Working with families to develop organic home gardens for improved household food security and nutrition
Providing microfinance services to reduce dependency on high-interest credit from middlemen-traders
Coordinating training and extension support to reduce external inputs, transition to market-oriented production and increase agro-biodiversity
Producing and distributing high quality and indigenous planting materials and livestock varieties
Facilitating regional and international exchanges for farmers to share information, techniques and experiences
Investing in collection and processing facilities (e.g. rice mills, yogurt production)
Coordinating tank ecosystem and forest restoration initiatives
Assisting CBOs with market information, collective marketing programs, internal control systems and direct trade linkages