Sri Lanka is a beautiful and magical place yet has to face the confronting challenges of a changing climate. I have started my month of working as a Journeys for Climate Justice volunteer and am blessed with the opportunity to work along side Kanchana, president of Eco V and renowned conservationist. On my first morning in Sri Lanka we set out to visit an organic farm in a nearby area. We had been invited to see the progress of the farm, to share knowledge and network with the workers there. Amongst the workers was a man named Sampath, who had been working in environment and organic farming in Sri Lanka for 18 years and had produced 11 books about organic farming. This small group of workers had only had this plot of land for seven months and had already created an amazing sustainable food source, which was producing delicious and healthy food, some of which we took home with us.
Organic farming will be paramount in the adaption to climate change especially in Sri Lanka where agriculture is a dominant feature of society and where the need for food security is high. Organic farming is a holistic approach to farming and will be important in societies adaption to a changing climate. Organic farming reduces the vulnerability to extreme weather conditions such as drought, flooding and desertification, a challenge that Sri Lanka is and will continue to be facing. This reduction is a result of many factors including that organic farming increases soil’s organic matter and improves water holding capacity creating a more resistant environment to drought. Organic farming is also a sustainable system that uses cycles of life including the recycling of plant and animal matter to create a compost to enrich the soil enabling the land to create more produce therefore reducing the use of outside materials. Organic farming produces lower carbon emission, an important step in fighting climate change is to reduce emission in every area of life. The promotion of organic farming is realistic one as sustaining an organic farm has a relative low financial side therefore helping to supporting livelihoods.
Sampath raised the concern of not being able to find heritage seeds of certain plants as they were not readily available as hybrid seeds had taken over in the area. Sourcing these seeds is important and also raises the need for a seed bank. Eventually this organic farm hopes to expand the availability of heritage seeds so that they are available for the entire community.
During this visit we established a partnership with Sampath where their organic farm will be used as a place to run workshops and teach Sri Lankan youth about organic farming. These skills and knowledge need to be passed on to younger generations so that they are practiced. Through these workshops youth will be able to grasp the importance of this way of farming and share their knowledge with their local and wider communities. On a grassroots level an important part of building resilience to climate change in communities is sharing skills and knowledge.These workshops will not only build their knowledge and skills but hopefully empower them to become young leaders in this time of transition.