Pic: Farm executives in discussion with a local agriculture development officer
IRDG’s Center for Agribusiness Development (CABD) commenced its organic fertiliser making in its Kanakapuram Farm in Kilinochchi. The initial run of 20 beds were laid consisting 20 tons of raw materials.
The director CABD Mr Pathmashankar said “we have all the technical knowledge required to produce compost, however, we are still in a pilot mode that will give us much needed information on the cost structure, define steps and processes for a much larger scale. Our plan is to be able to scale up to procure raw material to achieve our target of 10 metric tons per day at full operation.
We expect to be able to specify exact production processes, tools, machinery that will reduce production cost per kilo within the next 6 weeks.
We are currently working on obtaining the certification of nutrition content of our fertiliser from the government research center and are working on branding and packaging”.
Naga Narendran director IRDG mentioned that “raw material procurement process for this fertiliser making operation will provide local community opportunity to earn a subsistence income. We will pay at the gate for any organic material brought to us such as green and dry leaves, fruits, cow dung, wood chips etc. Children, elderly, women or anyone could earn income by selling us raw material. We expect the local community to clear their neighborhood and earn an income by selling all organic matters. We pay cash on receipt based on number of kilos received.
Indiscriminate use of chemical fetilisers and pesticides in our province is causing serious health issues. The soil, water quality and even yield from cultivation is deteriorating by its excessive use.
A large-scale supply of organic fertilisers that is easily accessible by all will facilitate cultivation of organic produce in the province. There is a groundswell in enthusiasm for anything organic. People are increasingly prepared to pay a premium for organic produce. Large commercial scale compost production will benefit from economies of scale and make the fertiliser affordable to all, including for home garden.
The farm is recruiting candidates who have completed vocational training in agriculture and agriculture diploma holders and will give priority to youths.
Once the compost making is in full operation CABD will commence its seedlings production.
IRDG has engaged several professionals to design pilot projects and scale up in a rapid manner. Pilots will establish suitable crop candidates to be part of IRDG's "one village one product" program and help confirm profitability of the respective organic crop type. We hope to produce and sell organic seedlings that could be grown in grow bags and create sustainable livelihood opportunities for women”.
The farm manager Rakulapathy was very enthusiastic about the prospect for his farm and said “we have already started vegetable cultivation on a small scale. However, my focus is on delivering the challenging assignment to scale up the compost production to 10 tons a day. I hope to employ over 25 people in this farm and will give priority to women of all ages from the local community. We will be piloting various methods of cultivation and crops. I will require a lot of machinery once we get to full scale".