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Elephant Farming

The Women’s Cooperative Society that runs the flour collective is a recipient of the government’s assistance program providing discounted food rations, such as dried fish, rice, and sugar, to the poorest members of the village. Before Community Friends provided the flour grinding machine, the women in the collective had to grind the flour by hand.  They make roti, hoppers, string hoppers and pittu and sell to little restaurants in the village. The restaurants open at around 6:30 a.m. selling. to fisherman and other workers setting out for the day.


The women don’t make enough money from the collective to support their living expenses so they also work in the fields growing vegetables. This type of farming program is called Chaina Cultivation and has a long tradition in Sri Lanka. Government land is made available in the jungle at no cost. The jungle area is cleared by entrepreneurial villagers through field burning and then villagers grow vegetables which they sell at a farmer’s market in town. Everything is organic because they cannot afford chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The land is in rotation and after cultivation it is given a 6-month rest.   


One of the big problems with the farms in this area is the wild elephants which trample the gardens and cause mayhem. The villagers have built huts in trees where they take turns guarding the land 24 hours a day. If they see an elephant, the villagers light a “cracker” which is like a very large fire cracker or small explosive device. The loud sound scares the elephants. 

Deva Ratnakara