“Our ancient generation has handed over a natural resource of superior quality for us and it is our responsibility to ensure its sustainability for future generations. In this regard, I have to sincerely thank the DS of Porathivupattu and ADRA Sri Lanka for initiating this concept to protect nature and coordinate the involvement of many stakeholders and the public in the planting of palmyra seeds for an expanse of 25km.” stated M. Uthakumar, Government Agent from the Divisional Secretariat in his speech.
Batticaloa,was the focus of attention on the 24th of October 2018 due to the palmyra planting event which was conducted on a grand scale, covering a stretch of 25 km- the longest bio-fence planting venture in Sri Lanka. This initiation was coupled with the national “Vanaroda” programme and developed as a landmark event by the Divisional Secretariat and the Government Agent of Batticaloa. After much preparation, the culmination of the initiative was successfully implemented in seven villages simultaneously, while the main event was held at Selvapuram Village.
It saw the participation of many stakeholders and distinguished guests such as M.Uthayakumar- Government agent from the District Secretariat, R. Rakulanayahi- Divisional Secretary, S. Puvanenthiran – Assistant Divisional Secretary, Assistant Director Planning, Accountant and staff from the Porathivupattu Divisional Secretary office, District Manager and staff from the Palmyra Development Board, District Ranger and Base Ranger officer from Wildlife Department, Grama Niladaris from many GN divisions, President and Secretary of the District Farmer Forum, Village level organization members from Farmer Organizations, Rural Development Society, Sithamu Women Farmer Organization, Livestock Farmer Organisation, Temple Society, Inland Fishing Community, students and Scouts from the Porathivupattu Division.
This activity was designed from the Improved and Inclusive Farming Practices project of the Adventist Development and Relief agency (ADRA) Sri Lanka in collaboration with Oxfam and funded by Private Grants of ADRA International.
Once the palmyra seeds grow it will function as a live fence, with a six feet gap between the tress and three feet gap between the layers which will feature three layers for further protection. Since the palmyra tree contains sharp edges, it is bound to keep the wild elephants at bay and prevent them from attacking the villagers. Once the tree starts to bear fruits, the elephants too will benefit from it, along with the people as various parts of the tree are hugely beneficial for humans and animals alike;
1. The Palmyra Development Board (PDB) continues to purchase hand crafts made with palmyra leaves for export to European countries. This is a livelihood for many women and conducted in a large scale through training mechanisms.
2. The high nutrition of the fruit pulp is sufficient to feed both humans and animals for a period of 3-4 months when in season.
3. During the war, people in the Northern Province used the pulp to wash their clothes.
4. Every year, each tree produces nearly a thousand seeds and people cultivate the seeds and harvests their root which garners many by-products, which has enabled many families to establish income generation activities.
5. Firewood from the leaf bark is used as an energy source.