Jan 03, Colombo: Support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project Connecting Regional Economies (CORE) has increased incomes for over 14,000 households in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, Anuradhapura District and Moneragala District through business training and the introduction of new farm technologies and crops, a press release from the U.S. Embassy in Colombo said.
The USAID on December 16 has hosted a seminar with the Ministry of Economic Development to review CORE as it nears completion. Beneficiaries shared their results with an audience that included the Minister Basil Rajapaksa, community groups and relevant stakeholders.
Since 2008, CORE has partnered with private sector companies to train and place unemployed youth in jobs with long-term career potential. As a result, youths have gone on to work in tourism, information technology, boat building, manufacturing and other industries.
USAID/Sri Lanka Mission Director Jim Bednar has observed a focus on mobilizing the private sector as the main engine for growth, job creation, and income generation.
“At USAID, we look forward to continuing our work together to develop the Sri Lankan private sector and improve the competitiveness of Sri Lankan goods and services,” Bednar has said.
According to the statement, CORE has promoted an improved business climate through stakeholder dialogue, and helped attract 514 million rupees in direct private sector investment to target areas, along with 660 million through other donors.
In a period of just three years, CORE has linked thousands of farmers to distant markets, providing new and more lucrative places to sell their goods.
CORE has pioneered innovations such as farmer-owned and -operated cyber centers to strengthen access to Department of Agriculture services that provide up-to-date market information. This allows farmers to get the best prices for their products.
In addition, to help break the farmer debt cycle, CORE has worked with the Sri Lankan Government and the World Bank to introduce warehouse receipt financing, which lets farmers use harvests as loan collateral and empower them to decide to whom and when they sell.