Implications of Interventions: Sri Lankan Experience on Lifelong Learning for Farmers

Implications of Interventions: Sri Lankan Experience on Lifelong Learning for Farmers

Introduction


It is well recognized that the community driven development programmes are more
effective and sustainable as they bring significant benefits to the investment. Such programmes,
incorporate rural communities as partners using participatory approaches. The recent studies by
Wijeratne et al. 2005 a, Wijeratne et al: 2005 b, Wijeratne et al: 2006, Frenando: et al 2006, have
highlighted the importance of participatory community development programmes, especially in
the non-plantation sector. It is also widely regarded that technology mediated Open and Distance
Learning (ODL) methods could add a new dimension to the existing technology dissemination
interventions, and moreover deliver an effective extension input to the rural clientele.
Understanding the above facts the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna, Sri
Lanka. implemented a Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F) programme,- Grow more mushroom
to enhance food security in the southern province of Sri Lanka. The commonwealth of Learning
(COL) supported the programme since 2008, first on a pilot scale, and second as a medium term
programme. As the mushroom cultivation is an alternative income generating enterprise,
programme focused on the mushroom farmers in the, area. The Ekamuthu mushroom growers
society has become the major target group. The main objective of this intervention is to uplift the
living standards of the mushroom cultivators through integrating relevant production inputs, and
facilitating institutional arrangements and stakeholders of the value chain. The Department of
Agricultural Economics and Extension is functioning as the focal point for the programme which
coordinates expert human resources of the Faculty of Agriculture. Further, it integrates relevant
facilities and services towards the programme. In order to disseminate technologies among
other extension techniques, Open and Distance Leaning (ODL) mode is being used. Further, it is
intended to step into a new intervention,- Knowledge dissemination on distance learning mode
using mobile phones, with the collaboration of one of the leading mobile phone companies,
Mobitel Ltd. The aim of this paper is to explain the major activities geared to uplift the living
standards of the mushroom farmers in Kamburupitiya area, and highlight the major outcomes.
2. Initial groundwork
2.1. Mobilization of the village
To introduce the programme and attract more farmers towards the enterprise, a series of
meetings were conducted at the Faculty of Agriculture and also at the Vidatha centre,
Kamburupitiya. Farmers of the mushroom society and Faculty members participated in the
meetings. The concept of L3F, and intended programme were introduced and discussed. This
fora facilitated as interactive sessions.

M. Wijeratne and W.N. De Silva, Department of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of
Agriculture, University of Ruhuna, Mapalana, Kamburupitiya, Sri Lanka,
e-mail:mahindaw@agecon.ruh.ac.lk

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