Sri Lanka gets World Bank loan to promote export-oriented food crops
ECONOMYNEXT – The World Bank is to give Sri Lanka a $25 million loan to help the island modernise its agriculture sector and shift to high-value, export-oriented food crops.
The money is aimed at helping Sri Lanka make the sector more efficient and attractive as a modern business, more responsive to consumer demand, and more environmentally sustainable and resilient to climate change, a statement said.
“The project will support value chain development to promote commercial and export-oriented agriculture, with a focus on higher-value agriculture products such as fruits and vegetables,” it said.
It provides investments to improve productivity and diversify production patterns through modern agriculture technology demonstrations in key areas, and supports new institutional arrangements through farmer organisations and farmer-agribusiness partnerships.
The loan will also support agricultural policy development to help the government determine the sector’s future direction.
“There is now space to diversify and promote high-value, export-oriented food crops,” said World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough.
“This shift is crucial for income growth, poverty reduction, reducing inequality and better nutritional outcomes.”
The project will be implemented through the Ministry of Primary Industries, the Ministry of Agriculture, and five participating provinces: Northern, Eastern, Central, North-Central, and Uva.
Beneficiaries include an estimated 30,000 smallholder farm households, who will benefit directly from a small matching grants program and agriculture technology demonstrations.
Another 20,000 farm households will be supported through technical and business training and through professional farmer organisations, which will help them become more effective and business-oriented enterprises.
“This project aims to demonstrate new agricultural practices and institutional arrangements in the project areas, linking smallholder farmers with modern agriculture value chains and creating attractive jobs, including for women and young people” said Program Leader at the World Bank Ulrich Schmitt.
“Innovation and new technology will help improve not only the sector’s economic efficiency, but also enhance resilience to natural disasters and climate change.”
(COLOMBO, Jan 18, 2016)