Cargills improves Sri Lanka farmer yields, cuts costs with India’s Jain Irrigation

ECONOMYNEXT – Cargills (Ceylon), which operates Sri Lanka’s biggest supermarket chain, said it has helped Sri Lankan farmers get higher yields with lower input requirements in a pilot project with support from Jain Irrigation Systems of India.

“We worked with Jain Irrigation Systems of India to introduce proven practices from India that have been successful in reducing manpower and agri-inputs usage,” Cargills group chairman Louis Page told shareholders in the company’s annual report for last year.
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Jain bills itself as the second largest micro-irrigation company in the world, making a range of precision-irrigation products and also providing services from soil survey, engineering design to agronomic support.

Page said that for the first phase of the program, 80 small-scale farmers were selected from three collection centres in different ecological zones.

“In partnership with Jain Irrigation, we provided overseas training and field visits to some of these farmers as seeing is believing.

“A team comprising experts from Jain Irrigation and Cargills thereafter worked with the farmers to install drip and sprinkler irrigation equipment and supported them with training nd monitoring during the cultivation period.”

The investment cost to install the irrigation systems was shared between the Cargills Sarubima fund and the farmer.

“The first phase of the agriculture modernization project concluded successfully with farmers experiencing higher yields with lower input requirements in their first cultivation,” Page said.

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“We are now planning for the second phase of the project.”

The project seeks to address challenges to growth of agriculture in Sri Lanka, including high costs of production, low yields, volatile climatic conditions, dwindling interest of youth in agriculture, overuse of agro-chemicals, and limited export potential of local produce.

It has created 80 model farms in Thambuthegama, Thanamanvila, and Norochcholai and introduced improved, “climate-smart” agricultural practices for 20 different crop varieties, the report said.

In addition to special inputs, eight farmers and five extension officers were given the opportunity to receive first-hand exposure to a successful agriculture modernization program, through a visit to high-tech farms and technical parks in India.

Cargills group operates an extensive food and agriculture supply chain in Sri Lanka, buying vegetables and fruits from a network of over 10,000 farmers, through 10 collection centers and sent to its chain of 380 Cargills Food City supermarkets.
(Colombo/July05/2019)