Community Media/L3 FARMERS
COL's Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3 Farmers) programme strengthens the competency of farming communities to identify and make select changes for improving their livelihoods that are financially viable, economically feasible and socially acceptable. The experience of L3 Farmers in Tamil Nadu, India highlighted two critical success factors.
- The importance of developing partnerships between farming communities and members of the agricultural commodity value chain including educational institutions, information and communication technology centres, community-based organisations and financial institutions.
- Encouraging and enabling farming communities to analyse their own situations and to take steps to work together with all the partners to gain access to self-directed learning, skills and loans.
- Dr. Krishna Alluri, COL Education Specialist, Food Security and Environment
- Professor Uma Coomaraswamy, COL Consultant, L3 Farmer Project, Sri Lanka
- Professor Kshanika Hirimburegama, University of Colombo
Initiated in partnership with the Open University of Sri Lanka, L3 Farmers is receiving support at several levels including:
- the national level (the Presidential Secretariat, ministries, government departments, University Grants Commission, Council for Agriculture and Research Policy and provincial ministries/departments),
- the institutional level (conventional universities, agricultural research and development institutes, and science and technology institutions),
- non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and
The thrust in Sri Lanka is to gain strong government support for national universities to implement the initiatives in the villages of their choice, making this L3 Farmer model uniquely institution-based.
The livelihood sources in Sri Lanka include cattle rearing, tissue culture banana cultivation, chili cultivation and mushroom farming. The information sought by the farmers is developed in collaboration with the consortium members and input from the farming communities. Content is developed in a self-learning format and delivered in forms that are appropriate to the communities and circumstances. The learning materials are also posted on the WikiEducator website.
Introduced in 2007, the Weligatta pilot project in Sri Lanka has already demonstrated many positive outcomes:
- Knowledge is driving a better socio-economy in the farming community.
- Income generated by farmers has increased substantially, which has had a direct impact on their livelihoods.
- The culture is increasingly self-reliant.
- Employment opportunities for rural youth in the laboratory and in the field have increased.
- There is a marked increase in demand for tissue cultured banana plants across the country.
- The Government of Sri Lanka is recognising L3 Farmers as a viable project that could complement the President's "Gama Neguma" (village development) programme.
"This is a unique project demonstrating how academic, government, international and non-state organisations can work together to help farmers enhance their productivity," said Professor Gamini Samaranayake, Chairman of Sri Lanka's University Grants Commission. "I believe this particular L3 Farmers project will be an ideal example of how entrepreneurial culture could be fostered amongst our academics. I hope it will motivate other academic institutions to initiate development-oriented projects that address problems related to regional development. This kind of culture should be sufficiently incorporated in the undergraduate curricula that young graduates could be encouraged to take up national responsibilities through such innovative approaches."