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* IFAD grants US$25 million loan for agribusiness development in Sri Lanka
Wed, Feb 24, 2010, 01:49 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 24, Colombo: The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized financial institution of the United Nations, granted a US$25 million loan to Sri Lanka that will directly benefit the rural communities in the country.

Sri Lankan Ambassador to Italy Hemantha Warnakulasuriya and President of the IFAD, Kanayo F. Nwanze signed the loan agreement for the National Agribusiness Development Programme in Rome on Tuesday (23).

The program aims at reducing poverty in rural communities and improving the livelihoods of small producers, women, landless households, and young people in rural areas.

Around 57, 900 poor households in the rural areas will benefit from the programme which aims to increase the incomes of smallholder farmers by 20-30%.

The program will provide business expertise to small scale farmers to process and market their products like fruits, vegetables, spices, cereal, milk, and dry fish, and take part in joint ventures as equal partners with the private sector.

The farmers will have access to financial resources so that they can take advantage of emerging opportunities, building their own processing capacity, and having better access to markets, the IFAD said.

IFAD currently funds four ongoing operations, worth about US$ 79 million. Two of the projects are towards the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts after the 2004 tsunami that devastated the island.

According to the IFAD Sri Lanka was the very first recipient of an IFAD loan, in April 1978. Since then IFAD has funded 15 projects in Sri Lanka for a total investment of more than US$ 217 million.

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