ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday April 13, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 46
Financial Times  

Growing our own Food, Fuel, Fertility, Health, Energy

With the cost of food rising astronomically over the recent past, small farmers have found it harder to sustain themselves, being driven into poverty with no respite in sight.

Inventor and farmer Ray Wijewardene's solution to this food debate, illustrated at a seminar organized by the Movement for National Land and Agriculture Reform (MONLAR) this week, is for farmers to reduce production costs by a reversion to traditional practices derived through a four-canopy-level interception of sunlight which would make farmers self-sufficient in terms of growing their own fertility and growing their own fuel for lighting, entertainment processing and irrigation.

The process would also allow farmers to grow their own herbs for health, providing them with a year round income. Although Wijewardene was not present at the discussion, his ideas were presented by other experts.

In this four-canopy-level interception of sunlight, the upper interception takes place to improve photo-synthesis of the food, in this case the coconut palm, with attention to the growth of nuts at each and every branch-axil.

The next two levels of interception (mid-upper and mid-lower) produce both green manures to meet the entire nutrient requirement of the coconut crop and fuel-wood for industrial heat and electrical energy generation. The ground level interception is to produce cattle-food and leguminous cover-crops for soil, microbial-level nutrition.

Annual leaf-analyses are taken to check any micro-nutrient needs which are then administered promptly and individually as at a hospital.

The net result, according to Wijewardene's findings, has been a dramatic reduction in costs for production which are now mostly paid to on-farm workers rather than sent abroad for imported inputs.

Each level of rural living can be supported with year round systems to complement the year round sunshine and intercepted at various canopy levels for steady year round incomes versus the present system of coping with just one crop at a time.

Wijewardene argued that for too long, the farmer has been looked down upon as the 'poor rice farmer' and retained in that role which is why so few of the rural youngsters wish to see their futures in that role of drudgery.

The commercial sharks wish to see that role maintained so they may continue to off-load their chemicals and tools while plunging upon him for refund of their debts after harvesting.

Wijewardene continued that the several loan organizations are just as guilty in perpetuating the curse of debt upon the producer.


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