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Written by Super User Category: Producers
Published on 13 February 2013 Hits: 13588
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NORTH EAST ORGANIC PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION (NEOPA)

Harmony from Nature to Culture

Bio Foods group of companies are proud partners of development of the livelihoods of small and marginalized farmers in several districts of Sri Lanka. With the prolonged unrest that prevailed in the Northern and Eastern provinces the interventions planned to partner with the two provinces had to be postponed. Since the end of the armed conflicts the Central as well as the Provincial governments have begun to plan various development interventions to uplift the livelihood of the farming communities in these provinces. Among them is the new strategy called ‘Private-Public Partnership’ programs. The Bio Foods, being a world renowned agricultural company with steadily growing business in processing and marketing of organic and bio dynamic food products, has made plans to enter into partnerships with the farmers, the state sector, the non-government, and the private sector stakeholders to launch a program to develop environment-friendly farming entrepreneurs in the Northern and Eastern provinces in Sri Lanka.

It has been realized that in these regions, there are many agricultural lands neglected for several years and those are ideal for conversion into organic and biodynamic farming. The special farmer organization –NEOPA ismaking plans for rapid interventions into the locations, especially to those in areas where the Tamil and Muslim displaced communities have been resettled.

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 The basic concept of the proposed model – ‘harmony from nature to culture’ was developed by the stakeholders who participated in the initial planning meeting conduced in Batticaloa, Eastern Province. The Eastern Province of Sri Lanka has all three major ethnic groups (Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims),more or less in equal proportion, and politically highly sensitive to development interventions and hence need careful interventions undertaken in a participatory manner. The conventional farming model used in the dry zone is predominantly based on paddy cultivation in the low lands often using excessive quantities of irrigation water or rain water, and a limited number of vegetables and other field crops in the high grounds. The seasonal harvest of similar crops glut the market from produce coming from all over at the same time, and scarcity of supply during the lean seasons, lead to the vicious circle of price fluctuation making the economy of farming communities highly vulnerable to the vagaries of weather and wrong ill-informed decision making.  

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 The discussions are underway to identify the interested farming villages to cultivate crops which has a high export market and less affected by the climate change. The farming system in this newly rehabilitated area could be changed from the conventional dry zone model to a new one where the selected communities engage in organic farming to cultivate different crops which have a high market value and require low external inputs. New land tenure and land use systems such as ‘one village one product’ and community farms need to be tried out, especially owing to the ever growing cultural issue of youth moving away from conventional farming. Bio Foods has taken the initiative, in consultation with the government officials and international donor community, to uplift the livelihood of the farmer community  by introducing organic farming practices, supporing to irrigation system and creating a export market for the organic crops. As the international donor, the Frontier Natural Products co-op rendered its hand through the Well-Earth program which is the sustainable sourcing program guaranteeing international market for NEOPA community.

The climate in most parts of the region is highly suited for crops (e.g. chilie, ginger, turmeric, fruits &medicinal herbs) for which Bio Foods could offer premium prices to the farmers. Therefore, partnering with Bio Foods Pvt. Ltd and, especially with the members of their well-established farmer organizations such as SOFA and MOPA would bring immense benefits to the newly emerging farming economy in the North and East. The members of these organizations have a genuine interest in bringing the marginalized producers and sophisticated end-users closer together, in order to contribute to the expansion of natural process of farming, while encouraging the sustainable development. They know well that they do not face any unfair competition from the emerging NEOPA farmers as these new comers are expected to produce crops different from those produced in the Central and Uva provinces, yet capable of complementing the supply-mix to the world market. The NEOPA will benefit from long years of experience of the Bio Foods/MOPA/SOFA as a certified Organic &Fair Trade organization dedicated to environment friendly farming practices, adhering to Organic principles and respecting the local ecological ethics, which enriches the soil structure and uplift the bio diversity in farm lands, thereby increasing the productivity.

 

Fomation of NEOPA and extending its membership

Converting lands into Organic

Training Farmers for best practices of Organic

Community Development and Social Benifits