Against all Odds
Fruits of a Barren Land
In Polonnaruwa, Samantha and his wife have found inventive ways to water the barren land and keep it evergreen.
Looking at Samantha’s farmland, one realized that the forces of nature have no effect here. Samantha and his wife have found inventive ways to water the barren land and keep it evergreen.
We met Samantha and his wife Priyangani at a small farm in the Kahatagahapitiya village of Aththanakadawala, Elahera. They are a successful farming family who have defeated the challenges of their environment.
The half-acre farm has been cultivated with crops that include maize, vegetables, fruit, peanuts and manioc among others. As they don’t limit themselves to seasonal crops, the farm is constantly in bloom. The family has also opted to sell their harvest directly, without the involvement of intermediaries. Buyers visit the farm and purchase fresh produce, pointing out that they have no problem with marketing the produce purchased here.
“The majority of the months here are dry. At least nine months of consecutively, we have less rain. May, June, July and August are the worst months. It is very difficult to maintain the crops during those months but I continue cultivations during those months also. I harvest in those months as well while many other farms are empty,” Samantha said.
“The Irrigation Department provides water for paddy cultivation. I also have a huge farm well to irrigate my land during dry seasons. We had a severe drought recently but I continued to cultivate the land. I draught water from the well to water my plants during times like this. All the crops we have now were grown during the drought and are now being harvested. I wouldn’t have income if I idled during a drought.”
Although the scarcity of water doesn’t hinder him, herds of elephants roaming around the village in the night pose a difficult challenge to manage. Elahera is in fact an area where the human-elephant conflict is at a peak.
“Elephants roam into the village every night. Therefore, we have to protect the farms every night. They destroy crops if we fall asleep for a moment. It is very difficult to chase them away if elephants enter the farm. There are few farms around and therefore, our farm is often attacked by elephants.”
During the few hours we spent on the farm, we understood that these farmers had used minimal agrochemicals. The farmer couple told us that although agrochemicals are used in the early stages, they are never applied during crop season. The secret behind the quality and taste of their harvest is the wise use of pesticides.
Samantha and Priyangani are parents of two school-going children and their livelihood is this farm. Priyangani told us that after sending their kids to school, she would also join her husband in the farm work. Both are seasoned farmers who earn sufficient income.
There is no need to reiterate that their livelihood is extremely difficult. It is not easy to set the scene of the environment in the struggle to succeed in life. This farming family is an example for many low-income families around the country. One can manage even in difficult situations, if they are wise and industrious in their approach.