Valmorgan has worked with SCAD for the past 11 years as a horticultural specialist.
His role is to train the farmers in the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, flowers, medicinal plants, spices and aromatic plants. He teaches both at the farmers’ training campus KVK and out in the field among the farmers self-help groups.
Most farmers are smallscale farmers with land of around 2.5 acres. Because the district is near to the sea and the area is subject to local effects of climate change, the soil is very poor with a high concentration of salinity.
We spend time helping farmers to understand and use a number of methods to improve soil condition. These include biochar and microbial technologies. With dramatic increases in the cost of food production, the difficulties of gaining a fair price for produce and the dramatic migration of farm labourers to the cities, these smallscale farmers are facing mounting pressures on many levels.
This is why a large part of what we do is to help organise farmers into groups to share knowledge and jointly seek solutions.Valmorgan said: “So far we have organised more than 250 groups in the villages. By organising into groups, the farmers can gain protection in many ways. For example, they can directly take their products to the markets and get a price from the consumer directly. This takes away the involvement of middleman or agent.”
With the cost of chemical fertilisers on the rise, Valmorgan and his team spend much time educating farmers groups about organic farming methods. He said: “Earlier we found it very difficult to change the attitude of our farmers, because they are used to their traditional form of farming practices. But now they are seeing the success of organic farming practices, many farmers are coming forward and asking questions. And of course the organic produce is fetching a very good price in the domestic as well as foreign markets.”