Transformation of bare land into agricultural park

Transformation of bare land into agricultural park

Jetwing Beach has been operating an organic agricultural park for over a year, growing and harvesting various edible crops as well as mangrove plants (mal kadol- Aegiceras Corriculatum, Karen koku-Acrosticum, Manda-Avicennia marina) which were donated by NARA Negombo to enhance the ecological value of the area.

Jetwing associates prepare the land for cultivation

Jetwing associates prepare the land for cultivation

The associates of Jetwing Beach and Jetwing Blue got together to cleanup a nearly 1 acre plot of bare land in 2014. Under the guidance of the resident naturalist the land was transformed into a thriving farm yielding fruits, vegetables and leafy greens while also providing a safe habitat for several species of bird, lizards and other wildlife in the region.

One of the key challenges in setting up the agricultural park was the poor fertility of the soil. This condition was remedied by applying manure generated from hotel produced waste such as composted garden and kitchen waste, sun dried sludge from the STP plant and slurry from the newly installed bio gas plant. In doing so, it was possible to operate and maintain organic farming practices and stay true to Jetwing’s commitment to responsible waste management.

Polytunnel greenhouse at Jetwing Beach agricultural park

Polytunnel greenhouse at Jetwing Beach agricultural park

In 2015, Jetwing’s first poly-tunnel greenhouse was added to the agricultural park to test out the benefits and viability of a protected agricultural system. In general, cultivation under protected systems provides the following advantages:

  • Increases carbon dioxide levels, allowing for higher photosynthesis
  • Plant growth and maturing is enhanced through controlling environmental conditions. This allows for organic cultivation practices
  • Water usage is optimized due to reduced evapo-transpiration saving upto 40-50% of water
  • Protects young, growing plants from adverse environmental conditions such as high and low temperatures, frost, hail, rain
  • Ensures high quality produce, enhanced yields and a regular supply
  • Protects crops from birds, monkeys and other foraging animals
  • Reduces the incidence of diseases and pests and therefore requires no pesticide use

One harvest of green salad cucumbers from the greenhouse.

Green salad cucumber was selected as the cultivation crop because it has high tolerance capacity for a high temperature environment. Harvesting was possible within a few months of planting and to date the cucumber yield has exceeded expectation. At present, the poly-tunnel harvest supplies the total demand of salad cucumber at both Jetwing Beach and Jetwing Blue hotels and sends excess vegetables to the other Jetwing hotels in Negombo.

Crops grown at the agricultural park

Crops grown at the agricultural park

Edible crops at the Jetwing Beach agricultural park:

  • Fruits: Banana, Passion fruit , Dragon fruit, Star fruit
  • Herbal plants Adathoda – Malabar nut, Eth demata – Gamhar, Kiripalu and Ranawara
  • Vegetables: we are growing nearly 20 varieties including bitter gourd, Wild eggplant, Bottle gourd, Ridge gourd, ladies fingers, snake gourd, anguna, thebu and yellow cucumber

(References: Sri Lanka Polytunnel Initiative, www.intracen.org)