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– See more at: http://web.archive.org/web”Agrotech projects that have been introduced have helped Informatics to promote their ideals of sustainability. The Agrotech land which has a rich ecosystem is home to large array of fauna and flora”
After reaching great heights in the ICT sector in Sri Lanka in a short span, Informatics ventured into the Agricultural Sector in 1987 by setting up Informatics Agrotech Private Ltd in the Mahaweli System C area.
With the vision to promote sustainability and to empower the farming communities, Informatics founder and current Chairman Dr. Gamini Wickramasinghe pioneered this adventurous undertaking into the Agriculture sector.
Informatics planned and implemented the development and cultivation of 1000 acres of land in the Mahaweli System C area which is situated in close proximity to Dehiattakandiya, in an area commonly known as Kajuwatta. The area which flourishes with rich array of fauna and flora, is also bordering the Kuda Sigiriya mountain range in the north.
Several acres of cashew and coconut are cultivated in the area along with cash crops such as bananas, papayas and mangoes. A distinctive feature of Agrotech is the large number of valuable timber such as teak and mahogany which can be seen in abundance in the land. Informatics Agrotech is a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified plantation in teak and mahogany in Sri Lanka.
The teak plantation itself is approximately 250 acres in extent. It has been intensively planted in rows 7 ½’ X 10’, which aggregates to about 580 trees an acre. The purpose in doing so was to reduce costs on clearing the undergrowth and also in trimming branches. After 5 to 6 years, the plantation is thinned by cutting every alternate 7 ½’ row, and again after 10 to 12 years, cutting every alternate 10’ row and allowing the rest to mature. This eventually would leave about 145 trees per acre to mature to over 20 years. It is thinned trees that are used for the manufacture of rustic furniture. As the plantation is under drip irrigation, new shoots sprout from the cut trees, resulting in a complete eco cycle with no environmental damage.
During its inception, Agrotech faced many challenges in terms of unyielding terrain and the shortage of labour. These challenges were eventually overcome by the indomitable and pioneering spirit of Dr.Gamini Wickramasinghe.
The investment and development of Agrotech resulted in the direct and indirect employment of residents in the Dehiattakandiya and Kuda Sigiriya areas.The amount of labour available for the Agrotech plantation was locally insufficient, and further recruitment was made from distant areas including Kandy and Haputale, adding to the initial cost of the project as the imported labour had to be accommodated. However, during later years, Agrotech and the farmers residing in the land benefited greatly.
Recognizing the need to establish the best practices in agriculture, Agrotech invested a large sum of money in drip irrigation using Israeli technology. Agrotech was the first company in Sri Lanka to introduce large scale drip irrigation. Following this induction, Cavendish bananas from Israel were first introduced by Agrotech and free plants were distributed to farmers in the area which further empowered the community. Currently experiments are being conducted into how Jatropha farming can be carried out in areas within the Agrotech plantation. New products are being evaluated in terms of sustainable cultivation such as dendro power.
Agrotech has a thriving dairy which apart from cattle has a breed of imported Murrah buffaloes for dairy. The curd produced at Agrotech dairy is of the highest quality and could be compared to the best in Sri Lanka.
The plant nursery maintained by Agrotech nurseries, nurtures timber and fruit plants of the highest quality that grows within the plantation. The continuous supply of material from the nursery fulfills not only the internal requirements of the farm but also provides seedlings to farmers in the area, thereby being able produce the very best of mother plants.
The farming community as well as the indigenous veddha community in the area has benefited immensely from extension services which were introduced by Agrotech.
The first two Chaityas in the Mahaweli System C area was built by Agrotech. Apart from regular school activities, Sunday school classes take place for the children living with the farming community.
Many tables, chairs, books, sporting equipment and other necessary educational requirements have been donated to schools within the land by Agrotech.
Agrotech has a significant geographic location and is also in close proximity to Wasgamuwa, Mahiyanganaya, Diwulagala and many other places of historical and social significance.
The Agrotech plantation area has much biodiversity and wildlife as it borders elephant and leopard terrain. In addition, both local and migratory birds are found in abundance in the land.
Such projects undertaken by Informatics have played a key role in promoting sustainable management and empowering local communities.