The European Union and UNDP Support Agricultural Producers in the Monaragala District
July 29th 2015, Colombo. The European Union has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to provide productive infrastructure for local economic development in Monaragala district. The project which commenced in June 2015 entails the upgrading of a rice mill facility and construction of a wholesale market and a mini economic center.
These interventions are carried out with the financial assistance that is provided through the European Union Support to District Development Programme (EU-SDDP), with a total financial envelope of EUR 60 million (LKR 8.8 Billion).
The programme aims at supporting the Government of Sri Lanka’s thrust for economic and social development in seven conflict-affected and border districts covering half a million people.
Agriculture is the main source of income for approximately 450,000 families living in the poverty-stricken district of Monaragala. Currently the primary and secondary producers in the district face a significant shortage of infrastructure and support services which restrict their livelihood opportunities, bargaining power and income earning capacity. The producers are trapped in the vicious cycle of low opportunities, low demand and unscrupulous approaches of the ‘middle man’ which leaves them with little or no prospect for economic advancement.
Against this backdrop, under the EU-SDDP programme, UNDP is focused on providing infrastructure units to Producer Organisations (POs) and creating an enabling environment for them to engage in local economic development. In addition, entrepreneurship skills training for producer groups are conducted to sustain their livelihoods.
Commenting on the ongoing project, Ms. Libuse Soukupova, Head of Cooperation for the EU in Sri Lanka stated “Sri Lanka’s economy is highly dependent on agriculture. However, post-harvest loss and high cost of production has led to higher market prices for agricultural produce. The European Union is pleased to note that the infrastructure facilities coupled with entrepreneurship skills training will significantly improve the farmer’s marketable surplus and their incomes.”
The project will support the Uva Wellassa Rice Mill by supplying modern rice milling and value addition equipment along with the supply of electricity to help meet its daily production capacity of 10,000kg of processed paddy per day. The paddy storage facility will ensure that paddy can be purchased in bulk from the farmers at a competitive price, and stored for a longer duration enabling the mill to operate year round independent of stock availability. In addition, complementary support services are being provided to build the management capacity of the Kadukara Multi-purpose Cooperative Society who will be responsible for operating the mill. A total of LKR 7.8 million will be spent on this project which will impact approximately 10,000 paddy famers and the population of the Monaragala district.
Speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the paddy storage facility, Mrs. D.S. Pathmakualsooriya, the District Secretary, stated “It is encouraging to see this bold step being taken towards the enhancement of the Agricultural sector in the area. Through the expansion of the facility, the benefits reaped by the farmers will be enormous.”
The fully-fledged wholesale market in Monaragala town will comprise of an auction center and space for individual shops. The market will have access to sanitation, electricity and security facilities and will serve as a strategic vegetable ‘exchange hub’, linking agriculture producing regions around the country. The complex will be constructed at LKR 14.7 million and will directly benefit 800 traders and the population of Monaragala district.
Through the construction of the mini economic center in Madulla, agricultural producers in the areas of Mullegama, Galgamuwa and Nelliyadda will gain technical expertise in the manufacture of value added products and have adequate access to storage, sales, auctioning and processing of these products. The mini economic center will directly benefit 200 traders and the population of Madulla and Monaragala, as a close link will be established with the Monaragala wholesale market.
Commenting on the project, Mr. Rajendrakumar Ganesarajah, the Assistant Country Director, Governance for Empowerment and Social Inclusion, UNDP said, “UNDP is pleased to extend its support to the Monaragala District and especially its border villages through EU-SDDP. The infrastructure development that UNDP will undertake in collaboration with the District Secretariat, will bode well for the future of the local economy of the District.”