By Randima Attygalle
Reputed for its core coconut plantation business yielding around 15 million nuts per year, Kurunegala Plantations Limited (KPL), a fully owned government company, is also well known for its intercrops.
Currently operating under the Coconut, Kithul and Palmyrah Cultivation Promotion and Related Industrial Product Manufacturing & Export Diversification Ministry, KPL recently gathered a bumper harvest of turmeric, earning a profit of LKR 11 million.
Turmeric is KPL’s latest commercial inter-crop joining pepper, cinnamon, cocoa, mango, dragon fruit, guava, mangosteen, cashew and rambutan. The success of turmeric is encouraging, especially in the aftermath of government’s import ban, says KPL CEO S.M.M. Samarakoon.
“Although turmeric was grown in a very small scale by KPL, this is the first time we did it in a bigger way with the assistance from the Department of Export Agriculture (DEA) which guided us from planting, providing technical know-how up to harvesting.”
“The maiden harvest of our first large scale cultivation is very encouraging. It is also aligned with government’s Saubhagye Idiri Dekma,” Samarakoon notes.
Five acres of KPL estate land in Kalawewa, Dodangaslanda, Kurunegala, Narammala, Dambadeniya, Attanagalla and Katugampola were planted with 3,600 kg of seed material.
“The harvest was 36,000 kgs and the highest profit per land unit was derived from our Kalawewa estate,” says Samarakoon. Encouraged by the performance, KPL has extended turmeric cultivation to 20 acres now.
Turmeric is an ideal inter-crop with coconut and mangoes Samarakoon points out. “Out of our 12,250 acres of land, we maintain 9,000 acres of coconut and there is ample space between coconut palms for turmeric.”
The turmeric seeds for their first large scale cultivation were sourced from Hasalaka says Samarakoon adding that under their joint venture with DEA (Department of Export Agriculture), they distribute seed material to other growers and nurseries.
An ideal smallholder crop, turmeric which thrives in the dry zone will help alleviate poverty, says the senior planter.
“The return on investment is very high and with proper irrigation facilities in place, farmers can plant it around the year without being confined to Yala and Maha seasons,” says Samarakoon.
Superior quality turmeric rich in flavour and pungency is now sold under the KPL brand and can be ordered through its webpage or facebook page.
Turmeric, as Director (Research), Intercropping & Betel Research Station, Department of Export Agriculture (DEA), Dr. H.M.P.A Subasinghe explains, grows best in Matale, Kurunegala, Kandy, Ampara, Gampaha and Anuradhapura and presently covers an area of over 1,420 ha. Although we used to import a sizeable amount from India, today imports are completely banned, he said.
To bridge the shortfall, DEA has taken several measures to expand local cultivation. These include providing subsidies for seed rhizomes, registering farmers producing seed material, technology transfer through training programmes and mass media, new planting programmes for expanding the cultivation and subsidies for sprinkler irrigation systems and post-harvest machinery.
DEA also assists growers with production of planting material through small rhizome cuttings and tissue culture. Machinery for processing including peeling, drying and powdering and making organic fertilizer recommendations are among services provided.
“Last year we exported 69.2 Mt of turmeric to Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the Maldives earning Rs. 86.3 mn.,” says Subasinghe. He says turmeric is an ideal inter-crop with coconut as comparatively a higher returns can be had by maximizing land use,”
Urging other potential growers to take a cue from KPL’s success story, Subasinghe cites good practices promoted by the DEA for results already obtained. Selection of healthy seeds, planting at the right time, land preparation with recommended practices, supplementary irrigation with sprinklers, moisture conservation practices and inter-cropping with coconut under shade (around 30%) are notable among them.
Sri Lankan turmeric is superior to Indian turmeric in many ways, notes the agriculturist. “Curcumin is the most important chemical component in turmeric and our turmeric has a higher curcumin content. While Indian turmeric contains 2 to 3.5% of Curcumin, local turmeric contains 3 to 7%. Sri Lankan turmeric also contains a higher level of flavonoid and oil.”
Besides being a flavouring agent, turmeric also has considerable medicinal properties. Notable for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities, turmeric increases brain functions and lowers the risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, ayurvedic physicians say. It also has anti-ageing properties and maintains skin elasticity. Turmeric can also help reduce depression and keeps arthritis at bay.
Sri Lanka Tourism introduces e-learning platform for all SLTDA registered tourist guides.
As an initiative to uplift the reviving tourism industry in the country, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority in collaboration with Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management (SLITHM) have introduced the continuous professional development (CPD) e-learning platform to all registered guides to enhance their knowledge and skills.
The launch of the continuous professional development (CPD) e-learning platform took place this week under the patronage of Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga, Secretary of the Ministry S. Hettiarachchi and Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando.
“Tourist guides play an important role in our tourism sector as they spend a lot of time with visitors from arrival to departure. It is important that our guides stay updated on their professional/technical knowledge and I hope this e-learning platform by Sri Lanka Tourism will help them enhance their knowledge and skills” Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando shared while the Minister congratulated all the officials who were involved in bringing this initiative to reality.
Knowledge improvement, obtaining expertise knowledge from veterans, develop active participation with guests, improve the link between Tourism institutions & guides are some key objectives of this e-learning platform.
If you are a registered guide with SLTDA, you can now sign up on https://sltda.gov.lk/e-learning/login and avail of the online courses.
A certificate of completion will be given at the end of the course from SLTDA and SLITHM.
Impact of Climate Change on marine and fresh water resources and combating water pollution
Trilateral virtual dialogue among Pathfinder Foundation, Russian International Affairs Council and Asian Confluence
The Pathfinder Foundation (PF) has initiated a trilateral dialogue involving Sri Lanka, India and the Russian Federation to discuss issues of contemporary relevance. The first trilateral dialogue will be held to day 4:30 PM SLST on the “Impact of Climate Change on Marine and Fresh Water Resources and Combating Water Pollution: Best Practices from Russia, Sri Lanka and India”.
For this dialogue, Pathfinder Foundation will be partnering with Russian International Affairs Council and Asian Confluence.
The distinguished panellists for the webinar are, Ambassador GlebIvashentsov, Vice President, Russian International Affairs Council, Ambassador (Retd.) Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman Pathfinder Foundation, Ambassador. IFS(Retd.) Rajiv Kumar Bhatia, Member Governing Council, The Asian Confluence and Distinguished Fellow, Gateway House,Dr. Anastasia Likhacheva, Director, Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies, Higher Schoolof Economics, Dr. B. V. R. Punyawardena, Chairman, National Steering Committee on Climate Change Adaptation, Governmentof Sri Lanka, Dr. Fraddry D’Souza, Area ConvenerandFellow, The Coastal Ecology & Marine Resources Centre, TERI Goa,India , Dr. Konstantin Zgurovsky, Senior Advisor, Marine Programme, WWF Russia, Mr. Sarath Premalal, Retired Director General of Meteorology of Sri Lanka and Prof. Vinay Kumar Dadhwal, Director, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology Professor Indira Gandhi Chair, National Institute of Advanced Studies, India
Those who are interested in participating may kindly register at the following link; https://bit.ly/3AZbYAN Program details are available at https://bit.ly/3zdUkY3 . The event will also be live streamed on the PF Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/pathfinderfoundation/
Doc990 and MyDoctor partner SLVA to extend accessible veterinary services islandwide
Sri Lanka’s premier digital health solutions service providers, Doc990 and MyDoctor are now enabling customers to access online veterinary services island-wide in partnership with the Sri Lanka Veterinary Association.
The national professional body serving and representing the interests of the veterinary profession in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Veterinary Association (SLVA), is dedicated to providing continued excellence within the profession of animal medicine and the provision of outstanding care for all animals while also actively creating public awareness of the contribution of veterinarians island-wide.
This collaborative effort with Doc990 and MyDoctor will bring pet owners, owners of farm animals and good Samaritans the ability to access remote video consultations with leading, specialist veterinarians of their choosing, without the hassle of physically entering hospital waiting rooms, transporting animals etc. This timely, contactless service will not only be convenient but also a relief to pet owners and caretakers in the backdrop of travel restrictions as a result of the ongoing global pandemic.
Customers can engage in video consultations with their chosen vet by downloading the Doc990 mobile app from the Google Play Store or the Apple Store. Through its widening network of hospitals and medical services, Doc990 strives to make health care accessible and convenient for all Sri Lankans.
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