As the world slowly wakes up to the devastating effects of contemporary pesticides, traditional techniques used by our ancestors in the island’s millennia long agricultural history to ward off pests to their fields are seeing a revitalization. Carefully preserved in the practice and memories of the farming communities of Wellawaya, these ancient techniques deter pests while maintaining the delicate balance of nutrients and life in the soil and water.
One such technique involves a fully organic blend which is added to the paddy fields in order to thwart insects that attack the seedlings. The farmers prepare the concoction with the stems, leaves, and roots of ten locally found plant species which are known to possess insect repellent properties (listed below). The selected floral material is placed in a large barrel and allowed to ferment over several weeks. The resultant liquid is then mixed one part to five with water and sprayed over the seedlings. Unlike the potent artificial pesticides which can eventually wash off and poison entire waterways, the above brew, the dasa parana kasaya – ten flavored potion – is far less harmful to the environment.
For the farming communities, the benefits of adopting an organic, traditional approach to farming are significant. Not only do they contribute towards protecting the biodiversity and environment of their villages, they also ensure the health and wellbeing of their families and, as organically grown produce command a higher price in the market, bolster their economic standing.
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