Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sri Lanka gets US support for new businesses in former war zone

The US Agency for International Development has tied up with Sri Lanka’s private sector to support new businesses in the former war zone that will generate employment, the aid agency said.

The USAID Public-Private Partnerships for Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka Program is expected to create the equivalent of 5,000 full-time jobs in the former conflict zones.

The aid agency said it is partnering with five local businesses in aquaculture, apparel manufacturing, logistics, and horticulture.

"USAID’s investment of about 600 million rupees will generate an additional 1,400 million rupees investment from the private sector for a total of about two billion rupees."

A ready-made garment plant to be set up in Omanthai, near Vavuniya in the Northern Province, in an alliance between USAID and a leading garment manufacturing and export company will create 1,000 jobs for refugees, including young widows.

A ready-made garment factory will also be built by a local garment company in Samanthurai in the Ampara district with 15-20 machine lines and employing more than 1,000 employees.

Another alliance between USAID and a Sri Lankan aquaculture company will expand high value seafood production in the eastern and northern provinces and increase incomes of people.

By the end of the three-year project, 1,300 smallholder farmers will increase their net income by 300 percent, USAID said.

A leading logistics company will invest in logistics activities to help farming communities in the conflict-affected areas.

"Through this alliance, farmers in northern and eastern provinces will have an opportunity to increase both their production and income."

At least 1,500 farmers and fishermen will benefit from the project in which cold storage units will be built in Jaffna, Ampara, and Batticaloa.

The USAID has also struck a deal with a Sri Lankan horticulture company to improve the productivity and profitability of fruit and vegetable farming in Jaffna, Vavuniya, and Mannar by minimizing post harvest losses and by enhancing farmers’ skills in modern farming.

About 1,100 farmers will participate in the program.

"We are committed to helping conflict-affected communities return to normalcy through the creation of sustainable jobs and increased business opportunities," USAID mission director Rebecca Cohn said.

© Lanka Business Online

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