Happy Urban Home Gardeners: Women Farmers in Urban Areas Implement Climate-Resilient Agriculture Technologies and Practices

Posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

By Sakshi Selvanathan and Ganga Kariyawasam – 27th July 2021


One does not usually envision lush greenery – or even vegetation in the least – when urban settings are brought into discussion. But a few inspirational women farmers are engaging in innovative agricultural practices in those very same urban settings, and are quite simply, changing the game. This is partly due to the technical knowledge and resource s lent to said farmers by the Urban Home Gardening programme – a component of the Climate Resilient Integrated Water Management Programme (CRIWMP) implemented by the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS).


The Urban Home Gardening programme began in the last quarter of 2020, aiming to support urban and semi-urban communities in the dry zone of Sri Lanka, in order to overcome the emerging food security-related issues in the prevailing crisis situation caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. Thus, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, 600 home gardens were established in urban and semi-urban settlements in the Kurunegala district.

Aloe-vera cultivation on the rock

One lucky recipient named M.P. Karunewathi (who is 77 years), lives in Udawalpola, Kurunegala Town and has a successful home garden: fruits and vegetables flourish in her compound and aloe-vera grows bountifully on the rock terrain near her house. Despite the shortage of land and poor fertility of the soil due to the rocky landscape, she has a successful organic home garden, for which she has never used agro-chemicals. She had recently placed a pest trap to protect her cucumber fruits upon the advice of the Agriculture Instructor of her area, and she is ecstatic that she got a big harvest of cucumber recently and is planning to sell the excess.

Pest-trap installed to protect cucumber from fruit flies

Karunawathi with her cucumber harvest

Likewise, Renuka Dasanayaka (who is 53 years), lives in the Kurunegala city area in Gettuwana, and she has a flourishing rooftop garden as a result of the Home Gardening intervention. She had opted for this as she is surrounded by neighbouring houses in a congested area, and there is no compound for gardening in her house. “Vegetables are expensive these days, but we have vegetables in our home garden and I can assure the nutrition of my family”, Renuka remarked with a happy smile.

Renuka with her daily harvest


About the CRIWMP or ‘Wew Gam Pubuduwa’:

 The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) mobilizes farmer communities in the dry zone to adapt climate-resilient agricultural activities and is an implementing organization of CRIWMP – which is a 7-year project begun in 2017, aiming at strengthening the resilience of smallholder farmers in Sri Lanka’s Dry Zone to unpredictable climate and extreme events.

The Project is financed through a grant received from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) while the Government of Sri Lanka has committed to co-finance the activities identified under the Project as well. The Ministry of Irrigation is an implementing partner for this project, and technical assistance is lent by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as well. The SLRCS works with a number of government institutions to deliver the project activities and outputs while measuring its impact.