Sri Lanka, IFAD to fund rural youth for agriculture exports

ECONOMYNEXT- A hundred young entrepreneurs will receive funding on August 19 to set up greenhouses and to link up with an export firm under a program funded by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the government, a statement said.

A government statement said that the 100 youth in the Badulla District will receive 500,000 rupees at a subsidised 6.5 percent interest rate from the Regional Development Bank and DFCC Bank under the Smallholder Agribusiness Partnerships Programme (SAPP).

The selected farmers in Badulla will grow San Marzano tomatoes and salad cucumber in greenhouses in two seasons annually, and the produce will be bought by the promoter firm Green Veg Exports Pvt Ltd.

The firm will provide technical know-how to the youth.

SAPP will monitor and supervise the banks, the promoter firm and producers.

SAPP Program Director Yasantha Mapatuna, Badulla District Secretary Damayanthi Paranagama and other officials will inaugurate the venture on August 19.

Around 57,500 farmers are expected to become competitive and transform from subsistence farming to commercially oriented agribusiness under SAPP, which is focusing on ‘Public-Private-Producer-Partnerships’.

The program is expected to improve income and nutrition of rural farmers.

The program facilitates commercial partnerships, access to finance, knowledge transfer and mechanization of rural farmers.

SAPP has added a target that 2,500 of the program beneficiaries be youth, to attract them into commercial agriculture.

In order to identify the potential youth, sensitization programmes by SAPP staff together with District Secretariats and Divisional Secretariats are being carried out across the country.

Already, over 1000 youth have been identified as potential youth entrepreneurs, the statement said. (Colombo/Aug19/2019)