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Tree Tops Farm

 

"Living in Harmony with Nature"

 

 

 

 

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Program For Large Scale Agriculture 

The area around the Farm is thick Jungle, and is full of a variety of beautiful plants and trees, many of them with great medicinal properties. 

Some of these medicinal plants are very rare, and are of great medicinal value if used under proper guidance.    

The jungle in this area is fast depleting with the rapid destruction of the beautiful trees - for the timber trade to some and for survival to others.

It should be noted that the proposed agricultural program is done with the intention of helping to reduce poverty, thereby helping to conserve the environment and nature; it’s wildlife and plant life.

Bottom line Aim of TreeTops Farm is to help conserve the environment, and to try and create some kind of Eco balance in the area!

Since the inception of the Farm, I have been responsible for protecting the trees in the immediate vicinity around the Farm. 

There have been instances where they have destroyed an area, just to get access to one valuable log. There have been many instances where they would cut a beautiful tree and just leave it to rot, for some reason or the other. 

I formulated a plan that could work, as this plan involves the village folk of the area. 

These village folk are very cooperative with my ideas of the proposed ‘Unity Cultivation Program’, as they are all farmers.

These poor people would rather farm their lands rather than destroy nature, but sometimes, they have no choice as the name of the game is – ‘Survival’! 

The village farmer families are well versed in crops’ like corn, pumpkin, watermelon, chilli, tomato, paddy, ladies fingers, string beans, beans, etc. These crops flourish in these areas, but the farmers are sole dependents on rain cycles, which is twice a year.

The rain cycles have changed, and are becoming more and more unpredictable.

As an example, when the Farm was born in 1997, it rained so hard that the roads were almost washed away. 

The jungle roads were impossible without the use of a 4-wheel drive vehicle. The Farm sponsored a ‘shramadana’ amongst the village folk to repair the roads, so that their bumper harvests could be transported without any mishaps. 

All the irrigation tanks were full to almost overflowing, all the streams coming down from the hills were flowing with water. Everything was lush and green. Moreover, everyone was quite happy.  

The September/February season 1999/2000 - was a different scenario, altogether. The village farmers got ready for cultivation in the month of September, as usual. 

There were light spatters of rain in October, and then the rains almost vanished in November and started again in late December. 

The rains let go in January, that too, not to the way it should have.

[Special insert]: The September/February season 2000/2001 (not yet over) – Most farmers in the area have already planted their seed after the first showers came in September. 

I visited their cultivated lands on the 4th and 5th December 2000, and what a sorry site it was. Their crops that should have been bearing fruit by now, were all deformed due to the lack of water

[If the Farm had a 4-wheel drive tractor, we could have made a difference to the villagers’ crops by helping them water their lands as much as possible]

The lateness of the rains for the seasons have caused great distress to the poor village farmers of the area, as their cultivation cycles was in total chaos. 

Many farmers lost their crops, and all their transactions greatly depend on their harvest, which did not happen. 

These farmers find it extremely difficult to survive and living conditions are rather harsh due to the lack of water, thereby driving them into the jungle and destructing whatever in their paths for survival. 

They never think about tomorrow, only today.

Most of these village folk are willing to join me as a team, their lands and mine, so we can do agriculture all year round, ‘together’. 

This will create more employment opportunities for the people of the area, thereby being a positive source of income for everyone, keeping them busy and helping them to generate enough funds for their survival, which would stop them from depending on nature for survival, which is fast going!

Creating permanent sources of income and helping them to be self sufficient is the ultimate goal, thereby starting a chain reaction with regard to the hard core timber merchants and poachers, who are totally dependent on the youth for their nefarious activities. 

The hard-core timber merchants and poachers won’t have anyone of the area to make them rich, as the village folk will be busy earning for themselves.    

The main ingredient would be a tractor. Preferably, a Massey Ferguson 240 series or an equivalent, with the necessary ploughs, the furrowing tool and a trailer. The trailer should be equipped with a detachable water tank, with pumping accessories.

The second main ingredient would be the initial funding for the program to get under way. 

A major part of the funding (excluding the tractor and its accessories) could be recovered within one year. 

This part of the funding would be to purchase various seed material, insecticides, fungicides, weedicides, tools & equipment, and expenses for the initial 3 - 4 months.

The first step would be to select five farmer families, and their lands, making seven blocks of cultivable farmland. This will make a total of about 35 acres. 

The Farm owns about 10 acres, and the balance will be of the five families @ about 5 acres each. This means, 25% will belong to the Farm and the balance 75% will be distributed amongst the five families and the village.

We start the program with Block 1, which has about 4 acres of fertile farmland, and Block 2 has about 6 acres of fertile farmland, and borders the Kumbukkan Oya, making access to the most important ingredient - water - easily available. 

Please note; this program is aimed at doing cultivation especially during the dry seasons, as this is the time the village folk are destitute, and the whole terrain is dry. This is the time when they cannot resort to agriculture - mainly due to the lack of water. 

This is the time of large-scale environmental destruction - in the name of Survival!

 

The “Unity Cultivation Program”.

With the tractor and funds in place, we start our program of “Unity Cultivation” with Block 1, of Tree Tops Farm.

Ø     We use the tractor to plough the land with two kinds of ploughs, thus turning and breaking the soil for maximum fertility.

Ø     Next, we use the tractor and the relevant tool, the furrow, to create water channels and divide the land into plots.

Ø     Then, with the help of manual labor which will be provided free, as the farmers input to the program, to help in the final preparation of the various plots, for their different crops.

Ø     Final stage, we sow the seeds or transplant the saplings, as required, to their respective plots.

Ø     Finally, with the help of the detachable bowser attachment and pump, we irrigate the fields from the Kumbukkan Oya.

Next step, we repeat these actions on Block 2.

Upon completion of Block 2, we then move on to the five farmer families’ blocks of land, repeating the process until their seeds are sown and irrigated.

Next would be the problem of irrigation of all the seven blocks of land, and the reason for choosing seven families and seven blocks.

The program for irrigation would be simple, as the all the blocks will be well prepared with channels branching out into fields from a few main points on the respective lands. 

We use the tractor to bring in water from the Kumbukkan Oya and irrigate the fields until they are well saturated.

We do this in turn, watering one block of land per day, 6 days a week..

For example; we water the Farms’ Block 1 on Monday, next, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and we take turns in watering the five farmer families’ blocks respectively

Block 2 of the Farm will be self-sufficient in its’ watering problem as this block is situated near the Kumbukkan Oya. Irrigation on this block can happen independently with the use of a 3” kerosene water pump.

On the other hand, if irrigation channels were found unfavorable in certain situations, the tractor could then spray the fields with water by using the tank/pump attachments.

A note on the tractor; the above operation, i.e. disc ploughing, breaking the soil, and furrowing is estimated to take about two weeks. From then on the tractor will be used only for irrigation purposes. The tractor could then be hired out, thereby creating an added income to the Farm, which in turn would enable us to fulfill our payments towards the funds for this program.  

The  ‘Goal’ of this program: “Unity Cultivation” is to show that being united and given the proper assistance and guidance, the farmer families of the area can resort to agriculture all year round, and live better lifestyles. Better lifestyles than the incomes got from resorting to illicit activities

This program is aimed at involving more and more families in the future, as this could be considered as a trial, a ’Pilot Program’ to enable us to gain more experience before the expansion of more families in this venture.

With the “Unity Cultivation Program” in action, this will enable the Farm to venture out to the next stage in the agriculture program, as listed below;

Ø     Large–scale agriculture

                                                    i.     Organic farming of fruits and vegetables

                                                  ii.     Production of traditional varieties of paddy.

                                                 iii.     A collection, propagation and distribution center for paddy fruits and vegetables

                                                 iv.     Teaching traditional preservation and dehydration methods of fruits and vegetables, like making jams and pickles, etc

Ø     Re - planting a variety of forest, medicinal and fruit trees back into the jungle. These varieties will be native to dry zone jungles.                     

Funding Criteria

Tree Tops Farm has been operating on 100% private funds since June 1997, and has been doing extensive research on the problems of the area at the villagers’ level, by physically living their lifestyle and facing the same hardships they face.

At this point, the Farm has now come into a problem stage, ‘Funding’.

With the experience this venture has given us, we are confident that if we were given the proper support and guidance, all funding could be paid back within the period of 3 years.

Funding for this program would be the first stepping stone towards our goal - to create employment to as many village folk possible, and this program will also help the village folk of the area to be self sufficient on their individual lands, thereby not having the need to destroy nature for survival, which is the ‘Bottom Line Aim’ of Tree Tops Farm.

This would be the ideal situation to teach the village folk the traditional art of preservation and dehydration, which would increase the end values of their products. This is one of the ‘Aims’ of the Farm as well.

Our Requirements

1)     A mini – tractor with the following implements,

Ø     Cabin.

Ø     Disk plough.

Ø     Soil breaker.

Ø     Trailer.

Ø     Detachable water bowser.

Ø     Pumping accessories to and from the bowser.

  OR

Preferably a ‘Massey Ferguson 240’ series, or a ‘Kubota’ of the same capacity, with the mentioned implements;

OR

If we were funded a 4-wheel drive tractor inclusive of the above implements, the agriculture program could be carried out more efficiently, as these machines have more power and traction, which would make ploughing of any kind of terrain easier under any kind of climatic circumstances with lesser maintenance.

A 4-wheel drive tractor would also help us in our ‘Future Plan’ to re- plant the jungle with native varieties of forest trees and to assist in Jungle & Wildlife Conservation in this area.

This tractor would be used for the ‘Elephant Watch’ program at night, and for ‘Large Scale Agriculture’ during the day.

 

2)     Funds for initiating the project, for purchasing the various essential ingredients in our large-scale agriculture program, and for sustenance for the first three months, until our crops bear fruit and go to market.

 

Please make note: this program is aimed at developing the lifestyles of the village folk, and the bottom line aim of Tree Tops Farm - The Conservation of Nature and the Environment

 

We, at TreeTops Farm would appreciate all the assistance and guidance we could get with regard to our Unity Cultivation Program. This program will be the first step where all problems could be encountered and considered. The experience will enable us to enroll more farmer families in the future into this program.

 

The Farm is 100% dedicated in this venture.

 

 

 

 

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