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* US$ 22.2 million UN loan to Sri Lanka to assist Northern farmers
Tue, Jan 31, 2012, 11:41 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 31, Colombo: The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized financial institution of the United Nations, will grant a US$ 22.2 million loan to Sri Lanka to improve irrigation infrastructure and crop diversification, and help create new market opportunities for smallholder farmers in Northern Province, a statement released by the Fund said.

Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Italy Asitha Perera and President of IFAD Kanayo F. Nwanze signed the loan agreement Monday at the IFAD headquarters in Rome for the Iranamadu Irrigation Development Project.

The project, benefitting about 7,000 households in Kilinochchi district in the Northern Province, will improve the downstream irrigation infrastructure of the Iranamadu reservoir.

Under the project the reservoir, which had not been maintained adequately for years due to the occupation of the area by the terrorists, will be rehabilitated to increase its water-holding capacity.

With the funding, farmers will receive training on water saving management methods that include climate change adaptation and mitigation measures such as rainwater harvesting to use irrigation water more efficiently for sustaining their crops and contract farming.

Women's groups would also be formed and strengthened by offering training and development of vegetable production, IFAD said in the statement.

Infrastructure development is a high priority of the Sri Lankan government to accelerate growth in the country.

With the latest credit, IFAD, an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome, has financed 16 programmes and projects in Sri Lanka since 1978 for a total investment of about $ 400 million benefitting more than 500,000 households.

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