USAID assists war-hit dairy farmers in Lanka’s East

May 20th, 2008 - 9:41 pm ICT by admin  

Colombo, May 20 (IANS) The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Tuesday inaugurated a milk chilling centre in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Batticaloa where it has provided assistance to war-affected dairy farmers like constructing cattle sheds and training farmers in animal health and business planning. Michael E. Hess, assistant administrator for USAID’s Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance in Washington, inaugurated Tuesday a milk chilling centre at Vellaveli in Batticaloa, on the site where the original structure was completely destroyed in 1990 due to war, a statement from the US Embassy here said.

Nearly 2,000 households in the area have benefited by this assistance.

“As part of the project, through a grant to international NGO World Concern and in partnership with Milco Private Ltd., USAID constructed 40 cattle sheds and five milk collection points, provided 300 milk cans and trained 160 farmers in feeding technologies, animal health and business planning,” the US Embassy statement said.

“USAID hopes that by supporting the livelihood of these farmer families it can help build confidence and restore normalcy to this formerly conflict-affected area,” Hess was quoted as saying at the opening ceremony.

Claiming that the dairy sector holds great promise for improving the livelihood of thousands of Sri Lanka farmers throughout the island, especially in conflict-affected areas such as the districts of Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee, Hess vowed that the USAID “will continue to work with farmers in the East, with the private sector and with the Sri Lankan government to establish conditions that will fuel growth in this key sector for years to come.

According to World Concern statistics, total milk production in the Vellaveli catchment area during April 2008 - after training had completed, and when the chilling centre unofficially reopened for business - was at least 50 percent higher than during the months of April in each of the previous four years.

After the government troops cleared the former rebel strongholds in the East last year, the government held the maiden provincial council poll May 10.

The US assistance has been announced a couple of days before the councillors resume their maiden council.

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