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International development

Improving the financial situation of women farmers in Sri Lanka

July 15, 2020

In Sri Lanka, the Entrepreneur Financial Expertise Centre (SEFEC) set up by DID and the SANASA network helps women farmers boost their incomes. Groups of women who produce pepper, a seasonal crop, were formed to introduce value-added subcrops and crops to their production in order to generate income and offset deficits during the low season. See the impact these measures have had on their businesses and their lives.

Sandya Kumari, Habalakkawa co-operative

Sandya Kumari participated in the technical training provided by SEFEC in collaboration with the Department of Export Agriculture’s continuing education centre in Matale. After the training, Sandya launched a food processing venture and began producing pepper sauce. To improve her product, she gathered feedback from her clients, which helped her develop her market. Sandya received a loan of 100,000 rupees at 16% interest over 3 years from her co-operative to bring her place of production up to food processing standards. She uses the income from the pepper sauce to pay off her loan every month.

Ms. Chithraseeli, Akkarapanaha co-operative

Chithraseeli, a pepper producer, participated in a few training sessions on improving productivity and quality, organized in association with the Polgahawela Trust. She then took out a small loan and used it to start producing white pepper, a high value-added product. While the price of black pepper fluctuates between 450 and 600 rupees per kilogram throughout the year, a kilogram of white pepper can reach 1,500 rupees. Ms. Chithraseeli has also begun growing cut foliage—a luxury product for the international cut flower market—as an intermediate crop. This production was introduced by the project as a crop diversification program to improve agricultural income.

Savings groups to deal with unexpected events

SEFEC also supports the establishment of savings groups for women farmers, in order to cultivate a savings habit and avoid the use of emergency funding in unexpected situations.

D.K. Jayawathi is a member of the Bibilegama women’s savings group, an initiative that encourages women to deposit their savings into a special account for the group and keep the money there for at least a year before making a withdrawal; 16 women currently benefit from this initiative. In one year, Ms. Jayawathi managed to save 100,000 rupees. With this amount, she was able to meet some urgent expenses for her family without having to get a loan, thereby avoiding debt for the family. Yet another way to improve the financial situation of women farmers in practice!