At Elpitiya Plantations PLC, sustainability is a part of everyday business. Elpitiya Plantations PLC ensures the sustainable development of our plantation by focusing their efforts on four main areas that encompass this – environmental sustainability, social welfare, early childhood development and infrastructure development.
Elpitiya employs targeted interventions to minimize damage to the environment. One of their major focuses in this particular area is the increasing of the bio diversity of the plantation and thereby the conservation of the environment of the estates.
Aitken Spence Plantations adopts a variety of methods to reduce any soil pollution caused through the use of artificial fertilisers. One such method is site-specific fertilizing which provide only the required nutrients without excessive or blanket use of chemicals. In addition certain select plots also use organic fertilisers in a gradual move to replace chemicals, aiming towards sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural practices. Compost pits are also maintained in the estates with the ambitious goal of eventually being able to replace one round of artificial fertilizers.
Aitken Spence Plantations through Elpitiya Plantations owns and manages a diversified portfolio of crops which includes tea, rubber, oil palm, and cinnamon. However, they are moving away from a monoculture system and are trying to increases the bio-diversity of the estates by implementing a polyculture method of agriculture. A polyculture method is one in which a diverse range of crops are planted in the estates instead of just the one crop (i.e. tea) which drastically reduces the spread of disease and resource depletion.
This would ensure environmental conservation and is a key part of achieving their goal of long term sustainability.
Social sustainability and child development
Elpitiya estates employ 8000 individuals who live and work on the 13 estates under their purview. At EPP, they ensure that several initiatives are in place to improve the working and living conditions of the staff and their communities.
In light of this, Elpitiya provides health facilities including pre-natal and antenatal clinics on all their estates that also offer free vaccinations and regular medical check-ups. Each of our estates has a medical officer who is responsible for making sure that these programmes function regularly and effectively. In addition, the plantations sector has also made four ambulances available to increase the speed and efficiency with which patients needing hospital treatment can be transported from the estates.
As well as providing treatment and care, Elpitiya Plantations also regularly hosts seminars for the workforce to create awareness and preventative methods for alcoholism, HIV/AIDS & other sexually transmitted diseases among others, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka and Plantation Human Development Trust. Skills development and prevention of alcoholism programmes were conducted for the members of Quality Circles as well as for utilizing the funds granted by the Project for Development Planning aimed at prevention of absenteeism in the plantations.
At Aitken Spence Plantations we make sure that the children in the estates get every opportunity to reach their potential. To this effect we regularly carry out a series of activities aimed at improving the literacy of estate workers’ children. We have Child Development Centres (similar to day care facilities) in all estates. Last year, a total of Rs. 24 Million was spent to maintain the crèche facilities in all estates. Of course it is always nice to receive positive reinforcement and we were thrilled when our Gulugahakande Child Development Centre was placed first at the all island child development centre competition organized by PHDT, beating 430 other estates.
In addition, Elpitiya Plantations in association with the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation provides educational scholarships to children of estate workers. This includes scholarships to students who have been accepted to university and students who have performed well at their GCE Ordinary Level examinations. Last year, three students qualified to receive scholarships to continue their studies from GCE Ordinary Level to Advanced Level and those qualified to enter university for higher studies were granted scholarships of Rs. 1500 monthly for three years. Currently, there are twenty scholarship recipients.
The secretaries of Aitken Spence with support from the entire group, led by Mrs. Daisy Kunanandham in their special annual project, donated educational and health care utensils for the children of Dunsinane, Sheen, Fernlands and Meddacombra estates. Over 1600 students benefited from these activities.
Sustainability through Infrastructure Development
We collaborated with the Ministry of Livestock & Rural Community Development in a special project to concrete roads in the Nuwara Eliya region. The full length of the roads developed in the Dunsinane, Fernlands and Sheen estates were 32 km at an approximate cost of Rs. 43.5 Million.
In addition, EPP has spent a total of Rs. 55.3 million on developing field rest rooms, water schemes, playgrounds, places of worship, social development centres, re-roofing and rehabilitating internal roads.