Agriculture Research Station - Sitha Eliya
The Agricultural Research Station at Sita Eliya mainly caters to the quality seed potato production under the national seed potato production programme and its supporting to the research and development activities primarily on up country vegetables, Fruits and Floricultural crops. The research programmes mainly focused on varietal improvement of potato based on yield, pest and disease management selection of high quality vegetable varieties and packages for the management of pest and diseases in all crops.
Developing and applying scientific knowledge to increase the productivity and profitability of Potato, Upcountry vegetables and Temperate fruits
This station was opened in 1960 to do research on potato and horticultural crops. At that time the Laboratory and the office were housed in a temporary building. Only one E.O.was posted, to the station to conduct research trials. The work of this station was supervised by Rahangala Research Station which was the biggest Research Station in Up country, at that time. Research Officers from Rahangala visited their research trials here.
Soon after the station was opened , Dr. Caesar, A West German Expert on potatoes was posted here to work on potatoes. The potato research project received much technical and financial aid from West Germany. But at that time, there was free imports of consumption potatoes into the country & local potato cultivation was confined to research stations and Government Farms. However, during that time a number of varieties of potato were evaluated, fertilizer trials were conducted and studies were carried out in different parts of the Island to/investigate the possibility of growing potatoes.
After 1966 when the imports of consumption potato was banned the potato prices increased and the local cultivation of potatoes expanded. By that time, the research section was ready with suitable varieties and other recommendations on cultural practices.
With the expansion of potato cultivation in this district, the demand on the research station was also increased. New recommendations were given on varieties, fungicides, insecticides, fertilizer application and other cultural practices. Research on similar lines were conducted on Horticultural crops too.
The Horticulture division of this station also received much technical & financial aid from West German Government. A West German Expert on Horticulture, Mr. G.R. Klaus, was stationed here from 1971 to 1976. Co-ordinated vegetable trials at 5 locations ( Gannoruwa, Maha Illupallama, Bandarawela, Jafna & Angunukolapalassa) were conducted from this station in addition to the large number of trials on Agronomy, breeding & Physiology carried out at this station. A comprehensive report on the performance of various vegetable varieties in different localities was published as the result of this work.
In 1970, the present research building was put up with West German aid. Valuable laboratory and field equipments, vehicles and growth chambers were also gifted by the West German Government. Along with the expansion of buildings, the research activities and the staff also increased. Different divisions such as Agronomy, Horticulture, Pathology, Entomology and soil Chemistry were set up. Glass houses were put up so that experiments could be conducted under controlled conditions. Quarters were built to accommodate the entire research staff at the Station it self
From 1974 to 1977 the station received technical aid from Japanese Government for the Pathology projects Japanese Experts were posted to this station to work on local pathological problems and equipments are supplied through this aid programme to equip the Pathology laboratory. This project was concluded in August 1977, after which time , the entire research programme of this station is handled by local personnel & financial by the Department of Agriculture. Even though some difficulties are experienced from time to time in obtaining spare-parts for some of the equipment, the lack of foreign financial and technical help didn't affect the performance of this station.
At present Sri Lanka imports about 4300 tons of seed potatoes annually. All the potato varieties that are imported a based on the recommendations made by this station after extension screening trials for their yield potentialities, disease resistance etc. Some of these varieties like Arka & Gineke are so popular among potato cultivations, they insist that the seed potatoes of these varieties should be made available to them in spite of a world wide shortages for these varieties. This station, being a special research station for potatoes, conducts trails in all potato growing areas of the island to find out suitable varieties.
Fungicides, insecticides & fertilizers and this information is passed on to the extension staff. Also whenever any 'unknown problem' crops up on potatoes, samples are brought in & solutions are found. In the past 10 Years , the average yield of potatoes/ Ac. Had double to more than 6 tons/Ac.
Based on the work conducted by this station on vegetable, a number of vegetable varieties are being imported by the Department of Agriculture to be issued to the cultivators. This station also produces good quality breeders seeds of Peas (Var. Fell basket), Raddish (var.Japanese ball ruba) and Cabbage (Lanka gova) to be issued to the vegetable grow.
Strawberry cultivation in Nuwara Eliya district was encouraged and expanded by the work that was out by this station. A number of new varieties (Kendall, Phenomenal, Shasta and Cambridge favorite) were tested and issued to cultivators. Information on the cultural practices was also supplied by this station.
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