(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – As a part of the government’s Vision 2025, Sri Lanka will promote smallholder agribusiness partnerships (SAP), said Austin Fernando, Secretary to the President. He made these remarks as the chief guest at an international knowledge-sharing conference on ‘Innovative Models for Inclusive and Sustainable Agribusiness Development through Public Private Producer Partnerships (4Ps)’ in Colombo recently.
The conference was hosted by the Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka, through its National Agribusiness Development Programme (NADeP), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), together with the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS). Fernando said the bulk of the poor in Sri Lanka are rural-based and depend on agriculture. Thus, pro-poor economic progress cannot be achieved by ignoring the agricultural sector, he highlighted.
IPS research shows that about 70% of the poor population of Sri Lanka lives in rural areas, and more than 40% of poor are reliant on the agricultural sector for their livelihoods. On a positive note, he observed that Sri Lanka has the right enabling policy environment to achieve more inclusive and sustainable agribusiness development.
However, IPS research has shown that Sri Lanka is yet to strengthen the rural small holder agriculture led economy for reducing inequality, eliminating poverty and ensuring food security and the rural livelihoods of farmers are further threatened in the rapidly changing global context.
Guest of honour, Katherine Meighan, IFAD General Counsel, highlighted the importance of the partnership between the Sri Lankan government and IFAD in securing rural livelihoods and the agricultural sector of the island.
Meanwhile, Yasantha Mapatuna, Director of NADeP, pointed out that the main challenges in the agriculture sector of Sri Lanka are declining productivity, climate change, poor quality, low value addition, poor logistical practices, lack of diversification, and communication and information gaps.She noted that the Public Private Producer Partnership (4P) model has been successful in mitigating and addressing these challenges since its inception.
The conference was a platform to discuss how the 4P model has been applied to the Sri Lankan context, to share the success stories of farmers, and to share concerns from the financial, marketing, and private sector perspectives.