FAO in Sri Lanka

FAO Success Stories in Sri Lanka

“I am 63 years old. This is the second worst drought that I have experienced in my life time. The first one was in 1973 and this one in 2014. If our tank had not been rehabilitated, we would have gone through untold hardships. We had very good paddy cultivation this Maha thanks to FAO and EU. Before the tank was rehabilitated our wells had salty water. Now we get fresh water from our wells even in this season of drought due to the rehabilitation of the tank. We can even irrigate our home gardens now using agro-wells. I feel comfortable that my family has enough rice to eat until the next cultivation season.

I express my gratitude to FAO and EU on behalf of the members of Thevipuram B Farmers Organization” said  Mr Kandaiya Krishnapillai, The President of the Farmer Organization.

The Pookulum tank was breached during the 2008 monsoon rains and thereon abandoned due to the war. FAO, with the EU supported project ‘Integrated Irrigation and Agricultural Livelihood Development in Kilinochchi and Mulaitivu Districts’ rehabilitated the tank adopting participatory irrigation management approaches. The tank bund, a new sluice gate spillway and supply irrigation channels were rehabilitated by the project. Upon completion of work, the tank spilled in January 2014 benefitting the villagers of Thevipuram.

Extension programmes through the Department of Agriculture (DOA) have typically focused on production and productivity. With research showing that marketing extension is essential in a sustainable agricultural extension programme, FAO launched a project in partnership with the DOA in November 2010, with the objective of establishing marketing linkages and enabling farmers to produce on the basis of market demand. This extension system is being tested in pilot areas of the country.

Under this system, farmers are being engaged through meetings and training programmes to develop farm business schools. Training manuals have been developed for farmers for this purpose. The Farm Business School (FBS) concept is a continuous process that will run over a period of a cultivating season or even beyond. After evaluating the progress at the end of the season, farmers will re-plan their activities for the next season. This is mainly to identify and overcome short comings during that particular season. This training method is completely new to the farmers as well as officers and it is based on the learning-by-doing concept. All the farmers in the FBS will learn the relevant lessons by doing it as a team and this will bring a novel experience to the farmers and will easily grab the ideas. Most of the lessons are done as role plays, dramas and stories by the farmers.

Mrs. K. Puspamala was displaced two times before settling back on her own land in Killinochchi in August 2012 in a small hut with her family. Income generated by her husband was hardly enough for a single meal per day. This is when she was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of FAO’s Rebuilding Agricultural Livelihoods Project which was funded by Canadian CIDA.

This project contributed towards reviving livelihoods in the agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors for the conflict affected resettled farmers. The livestock component commenced in Jaffna and Kilinochchi Districts with beneficiaries receiving a total of 676 cows and 80 stud bulls. Following its expansion to the Mullaitivu District, 200 additional beneficiaries were identified and they received 100 cows and 100 bulls, considering the severity of assets lost during the conflict followed by late resettlement activities.

Mrs. Jegasothy Lalithapathmini is a widow. She supports her mother, father and sister who were all displaced during the conflict. One year ago, she was given a small diesel-driven mill which had two hoppers, one for chilli grinding and the other for flour grinding. While the equipment was provided by FAO, under Norwegian Aid, Mrs Lalithapathmini took the initiative to construct a shed to install the machines.

She grinds rice, black gram, green gram and chilli, then weighs and sells them at Rs 60/kg for chilli and Rs 20/kg for rice and pulses. Her initial nett income was Rs 10 000 to 12 000 per month.The supply of electricity to the same village and nearby towns has prompted bigger mills to start operations, and as a result her net income was reduced to Rs 6 000 a month.