| Aug 16, 2023
Survey of 300 Participating Farming Families
Offering bananas while they chat with our team
Despite the economic crisis last year, Sri Lanka has seen steady growth in its economy in the last few months. This growth has ensured that the country is running smoothly. The people have gradually started to get back to their day-to-day lives. Pegging the US dollar to the Sri Lankan rupee (to stabilize exchange rates) has made sure the prices of commodities and essentials are stable. With this stability, we at Trunks & Leaves are fully functional and have recommenced all our projects.
Supplementary Crop Project
The supplementary crop project was initially launched two years ago, but due to the impact of COVID and the economic crisis, Trunks & Leaves decided to postpone the project's implementation in Sri Lanka to 2023. Our primary objective was to explore the viability of elephant-resistant crop species that can serve as an additional source of income for farmers. Currently, around 1500 families, predominantly farmers, rely on a meagre household income ranging from US$100-120 per month. The recurring issue of crop raids by elephants causes significant hardship for both the farmers and the elephants, resulting in considerable losses for both parties.
To address this challenge, we aim to identify and cultivate alternative crops that are less susceptible to elephant raids. By introducing these alternative crops, farmers can diversify their agricultural activities beyond the current food crops. However, for farmers to embrace this transition, they need the assurance that there will be a market demand for these new crops. Our strategy involves actively seeking buyers for these alternative crop species, thus creating a reliable avenue for additional income for the farming communities. Through this initiative, we hope to foster a harmonious coexistence between farmers and elephants while enhancing the livelihoods of these marginalized farming families.
Initial survey: 300 participating families
The first phase of our project was to conduct a survey with the 300 participating families. This survey will tell us key demographic information about our participants. We can also assess families' sentiments towards elephants and investigate how our project might or might not change these perceptions in the future.
The survey took almost a week and our team had to trek through long paths in the forest to reach certain participants. But the journey was inspiring and our team was well looked after by the farmers. Farmers offered snacks and tea and extended well-known Sri Lankan hospitality to our team. Working from dawn to dusk, the team had quite an experience working in the field. They were welcomed graciously, and some met them with skepticism (due to previous experiences with other NGOs and government bodies). All 300 farmers we approached were willing to do the survey and our team spent 2 hours with each farmer. In addition to obtaining the survey answers, the team spent quality time with the community and hope that this is the beginning of many fruitful relationships!
Biodiversity surveys and suitable alternative crops identified
The next phase of the project was for our agricultural consultant to identify crops suitable for cultivating as our alternative crops, and for he and our team to then decide which four main crops to use on the selected farms within the project area. Our consultant will go on to assess the soil on each farm to see how fertile the land is, and conduct a biodiversity survey to monitor how our project will affect the biodiversity on each farm too.
Initial survey results: needs of participating farms
Of the 300 participating farmers, half of these will be selected for alternative crop intervention. However, we want to retain interest and participation in our supplementary crop project from all 300 farming households. All 300 relationships are important to us as we move towards fostering a harmonious coexistence between elephants and the families who farm alongside elephant habitats, while enhancing the livelihoods of the community.
During the initial survey, our team identified aid we can provide to farming households. Some farmers need financial help in purchasing certain medications, some require agricultural help e.g. with their crop irrigation. Our team noted down all these queries and by the next GlobalGiving report, we hope to proudly report back on how we've provided support for the 300 farming households, in addition to commencing crop trials.
We are striving to do as much as we can for the community and to help the elephants thrive in their natural environment. Thank you so much for you continued support and donations via GlobalGiving, from all the team members at Trunks & Leaves. Your donations will go directly to this deserving community and help maintain a good relationship with this community.
Follow our updates on social media and stay tuned for more exciting news on this project!
Follow us on Facebook, Mastodon or Instagram @trunksnleaves
Our field team speaking with the farmer
Collecting survey information from farmers
Speaking candidly with a farming couple