Ajith from Dambulla has many titles; a retired navy officer, a father of three and a farmer.
But the last is his most proud achievement. After serving his country in uniform for more than two decades, he decided to put down roots and feed our nation.
However, his journey from the battlefield to farm-fields has been far from easy. He faced all the obstacles of beginners – uncertainty, misfortune, long hours of sweat and toil and success at the mercy of weather patterns.
“At the age of 18 I enlisted in the navy and worked for 24 years, In 2012 I left service. I went back home, I had a small plot of land, less than an acre and had no knowledge of farming,” he says.
But the ability to adapt and overcome challenges has become his untiring and irrepressible spirit and led him down the path to a rewarding and fulfilling new career.
He set about it how best he knew, by seeking out as much knowledge and experience as possible.
“This was all so completely new to me so I asked people who had knowledge. They cautioned about the rain, the floods, that it was not a favorable time to start. I had no one. Because I was a beginner no one came. No one was even willing to give help. But I did not hesitate and decided to go ahead.”
Farmer Ajith has now come a long way - working at the beginning from sunrise to sunset for 18 hours, to providing permanent employment to over six individuals and owning nearly ten acres of land - to help feed the country.
He proudly recalls, “At that time, cauliflower was off-season and could not be found anywhere. My first harvest was 35 kgs. I walked into Cargills Food City Dambulla and they directed me to the Wattala warehouse. They even sent a vehicle to buy my produce.”
Despite floods pushing his farm business to the brink he continued to persevere. “Whatever happens you need to find a solution. In farming it’s your own dedication. Through labouring my harvest has been as much as 300 kgs - I never gave in or gave up.”
His skill and confidence as a farmer grew. Through toil and grit he has achieved many rewarding milestones, “Today, I have a vehicle, a house and even a warehouse, but all this would not have been possible without Cargills help.”
To his family Ajith continues to be an inspiration. Inoka, Ajith’s proud wife says, “My husband’s dedication is an inspiration to all of us. Our whole family now looks towards developing our farm into greater things going forward into the future.”
They readily acknowledge the constant and steady support they received in helping them succeed in farming. Inoka says, “We continue to have a wonderful bond with Cargills – they are confident of our produce as we always supply the highest quality.”
Farmer Ajith’s hopes now lie in raising a new generation of farmers, starting with his son. “He’s my only son and one day I will hand over this to him, so I am training him in this work. Our generation of future farmers are assured with him. I am confident he will be able to live a successful life through farming.”
Having qualified in agricultural science, Dilhan, the son too, could not be more proud of his father. “My inspiration is my father, and now I am a farmer just like him. I am hopeful of the future, to attain the successes he has achieved.”
Ajith’s advice to aspiring farmers is to persevere with their dreams and never give up, “There were many things I could not do but I continued - you need to keep trying.”
He knows too well, from war to plough his journey has changed course remarkably. Despite the hardships, with resilience, ambition and courage he steered through and thrives triumphantly in his field of dreams.