Cottage industries such as poultry farming, vegetable cultivation and bee keeping have become a popular way of income generation among returnees in the North of Sri Lanka. According to Mr Prem Kumar, Area Manager for the Bank of Ceylon, Northern Vavuniya District, there are many applications for loans for poultry and home gardens.
This is the most popular industry as there is a ready-made market in the villages, so that transportation is not an issue. Selvakumar Arundha of Allankulam village in Mullaitivu District started a poultry farm with an initial investment of $270 pooled by six women in early 2010. Each of them earns about $2.50 per day from the farm now and more sales are expected for Christmas.
To ensure that farmers won’t fall prey to control of prices by outside buyers, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is supporting them to set up home paddy parboiling operations by January 2012.
30 single female-headed households in the Vavuniya North region have been selected for the programme. Each woman will be given a grant of Rs 75,000 ($680) to buy the large pots needed for the parboiling and build a small storage area. They will be linked to five small mills near their villages, also supported by the organization, which will buy the paddy. A kilo gramme of paddy will make them a profit of around Rs 5 and the mills will buy the paddy for at least two years. ILO plans to fund 10 such mills and 60 households.
Vavuniya North Division is suitable for bee keeping as there are over 50,000 hectares of jungle in the area. It is also a profitable industry with an expected annual income of 10 hives is about Rs 72,000 ($650).
Transportation of produce is the greatest problem faced by farmers, and the development of the roads connecting remote villages would increase cottage industries in the area.
Assistance for projects in these areas would be welcome. Facilitation of micro-credit can be provided by contributions to the fund set up at the Commercial Bank in Vavuniya to provide collateral.
By Chathuri Jayawardana