GAP certifications for the farm products come sustainabally managed farmlands
Rehabilitation of Degraded Agricultural Lands Project (RDALP), Department of Agriculture (DoA) and Cargills Suparmarket chain jointly launched Sustainable Land Management (SLM) promotion program in the Central Highlands.
The program initially covers the farmers in the Cargills supply chain and the RDALP introduce SLM best practices and environment friendly agricultural practices. The DoA supports the farmers to get Good Agricultural Practices) (GAP) certificates to their farm products. The Cargills purchases these GAP certified farm products at higher price and sells in its supermarkets.
GAP certification ensures that these farm products meet quality standards, environmental friendly, socially acceptable and economically profitable.
Agriculture extension officers of the DoA closely work with the farmers and ensure that GAP principles are applied in every stage of production.
Initially, 100 famers have been selected and DoA extension officers will train them on SLM best practises and GAP principles.
Under the program the farmers are trained on soil conservation technologies, fertilizer application based on soil testing, conservation of water sopurces and catchment areas, and RDALP provides financial or material aids fror the farmers to implemment them. Project is started in the Badulla and Nuwara Eliya districts and farmer selection and awarness has been completed.
The project manager of the RDALP Nimal Gunasena said that the project is considering market based approaches in SLM promotion.
“Through the experience of various programs implemented in the past it has been proved that SLM cannot be sustainably implemented just by mobilization of farmers or strict regulations. RDALP has proved that application of SLM best practices can increase land productivity, harvest and farmer income. Farmers can also fetch higher price for environmentally friendly products. Since this is a market-based approach that farmers get higher income through practicing SLM this is sustainable” he said.
The objective of the GAP program is produce high quality agricultural products that can fetch a higher price in the market and increase farmer income. There are new trends in the demand for agricultural products in the domestic and global markets. Consumers are highly concern about noncommunicable diseases such as diabetics, cancer and heart attacks and seeking safe farm products. As a result there is a high demand and good price for organic farm products.
“Ethical products” is another brand name refers to the products that do not damage public goods in their production process and promote the public goods. Therefore, farm products that produce using excessive chemical fertilizer and polluting soil and water cannot be considered as ethical products.
Accordingly, this program introduces new dimensions to ethical agricultural products that use SLM and environmental best practices and come to the market with GAP certification.
Gunasena said that this program implement with the private sector is also an introduction of an innovative financial mechanisam for SLM. The total investment for the GAP program is Rs.42.6 million and Cargills provide Rs.13.6 million, RDALP of the FAO provides Rs.10.8 million and farmers contribute Rs.18.2 million.