A Publication for the faculty, staff, administrators and friends of California State University, Chico
Feb. 10, 2005 Volume 35 / Number 5

Page One Stories

Seeds for Sri Lanka

Up until this point, relief efforts to tsunami victims and survivors have focused on immediate needs for potable water, emergency food supplies, and human health. Those needs will gradually diminish, but long-term needs for the surviving population to feed itself will persist.

Vegetable production in home gardens, community gardens, and refugee camps can generate additional income, diversify diet, and help to ensure food supply in a sustainable way by involving the victims in their own recovery. Fast-growing green vegetables can supply micronutrients much faster than slower growing grain crops.

Retired professor of agriculture, Jim Burleigh is part of The World Vegetable Center-Taiwan and International Development Enterprises project to supply 50,000 vegetable production kits to victims and survivors of the tsunami in Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

These kits will include (1) seed of fast-growing leafy vegetables (pak-choi and kangkong) to provide nutrition in 30–35 days from planting, (2) liquid fertilizer to be administered via micro-irrigation, (3) a hoe, (4) a visually-orientated instruction booklet in the local language that describes cultivation practices to follow for each vegetable species and details to set up and use the irrigation system, and (5) a micro-irrigation system.

In addition, kits will contain seed of later maturing vegetables (tomato, eggplant, cucumber, water melon, kale, edible rape, yard-long bean, cabbage, yellow wax hot pepper, butternut squash) to enhance diversity in the diet and improve nutrition as they mature. The exact quantities of these species will depend on donations from seed companies.

Burleigh will depart to Sri Lanka in March, if the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC) receives funding from USAID. He will be in Sri Lanka for about a month, through one leafy vegetable cropping sequence. That would provide enough time to document how the program is working.

Burleigh, whose degree is in plant pathology, came to CSU, Chico in 1971, after having worked for the US Department of Agricul-ture at Kansas State University for seven years. He retired from CSU, Chico in 1998. During the time he was at Chico, he had exchanges with several other universities where he headed agriculture-related projects in Morocco for seven years with the University of Minnesota, in Rwanda for two years with the University of Arkansas, and in Sri Lanka for two and a half years with Oregon State University.

Immediately upon retirement from CSU, Chico, he went to the Philippines with AVRDC. He finished his work with them in December 2003.

Note for those who would like to contribute to this project: The Ministry of Agriculture-Taiwan has donated $200,000, and the German government $39,000. A proposal was submitted to USAID for additional funding. Contributions are welcome and can be sent to AVRDC- The World Vegtable Cen-ter, P.O. Box 42, 60, Yi-Min Liao, Shanhua, Tainan, Taiwan, ROC 74151. Tel: 886-6-583-7801. Dr. F. Markus Kaiser (ext. 130) is the individual in charge of the effort.

Kathleen McPartland



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