A group of media professionals from several Sri Lankan media organisations recently visited the Dilmah Conservation Sustainable Agriculture Research Centre (DCSARC) for the first in a series of programmes aimed at creating greater awareness on the benefits of organic farming and urban agriculture.

DCSARC was established to support research on sustainable organic agriculture that uses modern technology as a means of enhancing the quality of agricultural produce while promoting organic home gardening initiatives by sharing knowledge and encouraging learning. One of the primary aims is to demonstrate a variety of vertical agriculture techniques which require minimal space and resources.

For this awareness programme, Dilmah Conservation invited a group of working journalists to learn more about these practices. Experts who work with Dilmah Conservation at DCSARC briefed the participants on a variety of related topics.

Dr. G.A.C. Sri Palitha spoke about how urban gardening techniques and organic farming can be effectively incorporated into everyday life, even among those families living in urban areas. Mr. W. Sarathchandra Fernando, the author of “A Guide to Eco-Friendly Home Gardening,” demonstrated the advantages of urban gardening and various methods that are used such as vertical and green wall cultivation, processing organic fertilisers, soil and water conservation, and pest and disease control measures.

Meanwhile, Mr. Himesh Jayasinghe, author of “Common Butterflies of Sri Lanka,” briefed the participants on how to include butterfly-friendly plants in home gardens while Mr. Buddhika Jayalath, who helps maintains DCSARC, also provided a cooking demonstration to the visitors in the traditional Sri Lankan kitchen using organic vegetables from the garden.

The journalists also saw first-hand some of the methods used to maximize sustainability. The biogas plant at DCSARC helps meet the energy requirements, and the generated waste is used as bio fertiliser for cultivation. With a daily waste feeding capacity of approximately 50 kg, the plant produces about 5.5 m3 of biogas every day, making the facility both environmentally and financially more sustainable.

Rainwater harvesting provides clean water for use by the staff of the MJF Charitable Foundation, situated on the same premises. Some of the water is used for agricultural purposes, some is UV-treated and used for hand-washing, and the remaining rainwater is used for toilets. Although it’s not used for drinking, it still helps conserve a lot of water.

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